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In the latest blow to the Nigerian oil industry, gunmen believed to be members of the Boko Haram terrorist group have abducted at least 10 people who were on an oil exploration mission in the Islamist group’s stronghold state of Borno in northeastern Nigeria, AFP reported on Wednesday, quoting representatives of the national oil company and colleagues of the people kidnapped.
“About 10 staff from the survey and geological department of the University of Maiduguri were abducted on Tuesday,” Ndu Ughamadu of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) told AFP.
The Nigerian oil firm had hired the team to carry out research on the oil exploration activities in the Lake Chad basin.
“They were kidnapped around Jibi village in Borno state after a gun duel between the security agents accompanying them and suspected Boko Haram fighters,” Ughamadu said.
A representative from the University of Maiduguri also confirmed that a team from the university had been kidnapped.
“Our staff who were recruited as consultants were on the team that was ambushed,” spokesperson Danjuma Gambo told AFP.
The team had been working in oil prospecting research for the past month, another member of university staff said to AFP.
In May this year, NNPC said it was resuming efforts to explore for oil in the Chad basin.
Just days before that, on May 5, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria issued a security warning after it had “received a credible report that Boko Haram is actively planning to kidnap foreigners working along the Kumshe-Banki axis in Bama Local Government Area, Borno State.”
News of the kidnapping of the oil exploration staff comes just a day after the Nigerian unit of Shell said it had shut its Trans Niger Pipeline due to a leak, while the managing director of the NNPC said that the pipeline was attacked, effectively shutting in 150,000 bpd of crude oil output.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.