Thursday, January 26, 2006

3 Nigerians Arrested In Hostage-Taking Case; Obasanjo, In Davos, Says Kidnap Talks 'Progressing,' Oil Industry 'Not In Crisis'

Three Nigerian men were arrested Thursday by authorities there in connection with the recent kidnapping of four men from Royal Dutch Shell's offshore Beneside platform, a Lafayette, La., tv station said this afternoon.

Since the kidnapping and a series of terror attacks on flow-stations and pieplines,
Royal Dutch Shell and Agip, Italy's national oil comapny, have taken steps to evacuate many of their workers from the Niger Delta region where the attacks and kidnappings have occurred.

However, according to early editions of today Guardian of Nigeria, four more men were kidnapped yesterday, also from a Shell platform, the paper said. That news could not be confirmed, and the Guardian's front-page link to it was broken.
Here is the story from KFLY Channel 10 in Lafayette, the hometown of hostage Patrick Landry:

January 26, 2006
>3 Men Arrested in Nigeria on Kidnapping Charges

New details are being released Thursday afternoon on an Acadiana native who is being held hostage in Nigeria.

Three men allegedly linked to a Nigerian militant group claiming to hold four oil workers hostage have been arrested.

A police spokesman says the men could assist in locating the kidnappers.

Acadiana native Patrick Landry was one of four who was kidnapped at a Shell Oil platform earlier this month.

We'll have more on this story on the evening editions of Eyewitness News.

Meanwhile, the well-regarded Stratfor Intelligence Group published a brief note from the World Economic Forum in Davos, where Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo spoke to the press today:

Nigeria: Talks On Hostages Progressing>
January 26, 2006 12 16 GMT

Talks with militants that are holding an American, a Briton, a Bulgarian and a Honduran oil worker hostage in the Niger Delta are making progress, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said Jan. 26. Obasanjo, who is attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, added that he is not concerned that the incident would impact investment in the country. He declined to speculate about when the hostage crisis might be over.

The Chinese government-controlled ChinaView Website, meanwhile, say Obasanjo is seeking to debunk widespread perceptions that Nigeria's oil industry is in crisis. Their report is also from Davos, but used a Lagos, Nigeria dateline:

Nigeria's oil industry not in crisis: Obasanjo 2006-01-27 02:34:41

LAGOS, Jan. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjoon Thursday in Davos, Switzerland, said the recent violence on oil facilities and abduction of four oilmen in the country's Niger Delta did not amount to having a crisis in its oil industry.

According to the official News Agency of Nigeria, Obasanjo said his government was already taking effective steps to contain the situation in the delta region, where the majority of Nigeria's oil is produced.

"I do not believe that our oil industry is under threat. This is an aberration. It will come and go. There is an element of terrorism in this and you cannot say we should give in to terrorism," Obasanjo was quoted as saying.

He said his administration was fully aware of the global importance of the hydrocarbon resources of the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea and would do everything possible to guarantee their security.

The president said although his government was in contact with the militant group claiming responsibility for recent criminal acts in the Niger Delta, it had not offered them any "deal."

On January 11, four foreigners working for Royal Dutch Shell were taken hostage by an armed group in the Niger Delta region. Local officials had expressed optimism that the four could be released this week.

Nigeria is the biggest oil producer in Africa with a daily output of 2.5 million barrels, while Shell accounts for half of the country's oil production, but the situation in the country's oil regions in the south is turbulent.

In the oil-rich Niger Delta, local people accuse oil majors of caring about only extracting oil and doing little to help them develop the area. As a result, they frequently attack oil facilities and commit other forms of violence to blackmail the oil companies operating in the area.

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