Gunmen in Nigeria attacked an oil tanker off the coast of the Niger Delta on Tuesday, kidnapping the ship’s captain and an engineer, private security sources said.
The Turkish vessel Ilena Mercan, chartered by French oil company Total, was attacked on its way to Onne port in Nigeria’s southeastern Rivers state, said two oil industry security sources. But a spokesman for the military said it was unaware of such an incident.
Nigeria’s coastal waters are among the world’s most dangerous for piracy, second only to Somalia, according to the International Maritime Bureau, Reuters says
“Two people from the tanker were taken. It is still on its way to Onne,” said one security source.
The nationalities of the two people kidnapped were not yet known but the Turkish state-run Anatolian news agency reported Turkey’s Foreign Ministry was taking steps to free the hostages.
Total was not immediately available for comment.
More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in the delta — home to Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry — over the past three years. Most were released unharmed after a ransom payment.
Insecurity in the region has cut output by a fifth in the last three years and the OPEC member’s oil production is now less than 2 million barrels per day.
Foreign companies in sectors ranging from telecoms to construction, as well as the oil industry, have tightened security and reduced staffing levels, particularly among expatriates seen as being at high risk of kidnap.