Gunmen attacked a ship operated by a French oil and gas services company off the coast of Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta, kidnapping six Russian sailors and an Estonian in the assault, the firm said Wednesday.
Paris-based Bourbon SA offered only a tersely worded statement on its website about the attack Monday near the Niger Delta, where the company works closely with oil companies like French firm Total SA. Gunmen apparently attacked the Bourbon Liberty 249, an anchor handling vessel, and seized the sailors before escaping, the company said.
Another nine sailors onboard the vessel sailed safely away to the company’s port in Onne in Nigeria’s Rivers state, the company said.
“The emergency unit set up immediately by Bourbon has been set up to aim at their rapid liberation under the safest security conditions,” the company said in its statement. A company spokesman reached in Paris declined to elaborate on the company’s statement and did not say where the kidnapping actually took place.
Foreign oil companies have pumped oil out of the Niger Delta, a region of mangroves and swamps the size of Portugal, for more than 50 years. Despite the billions of dollars flowing into Nigeria’s government, many in the delta remain desperately poor, living in polluted waters without access to proper medical care, education or work. The poor conditions sparked an uprising in 2006 by militants and opportunistic criminals who blew up oil pipelines and kidnapped foreign workers.