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Updated: Again, Militants Attack Exxon Mobil Oil Rig, Take Hostages

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ABUJA, Nov 15, (THEWILL) - Militants in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta state, Akwa Ibom on Sunday night attacked an oil rig operated by Exxon Mobil, company officials said today. In a brief statement made available to THEWILL, Exxon Mobil's Upstream in Nigerian said "unknown armed persons" yesterday attacked the oil rig operating off the coast of the Niger Delta, but did not disclose whether anyone was hurt in the process or if there was a disruption of oil production adding that ‘relevant government and security agencies have been informed and appropriate response measures are under way at this time."

The rig attacked according to reports is located at Oso field, which has about eight platforms with a capacity to pump a total of about 75, 000 barrels per day.

Though the brief statement did not explain the exact nature of the attack, concerned citizens who were approached by THEWILL said the attackers targeted a rig operating off the coast of Akwa Ibom state, but no reported kidnap was recorded.

THEWILL sources also confirmed that the oil major in its offshore exploration and production activities has avoided many pitfalls experienced by other foreign oil firms but has unsuccessfully dealt with oil spills causing serious environmental problems which has at many times pitched the company against its host communities.

But the major Nigerian militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has claimed it detonated explosives at the platform and took seven local oil workers hostage.

In an email statement it warned that it will "launch a major operation that will simultaneously affect oil facilities across the Niger Delta." The Sunday attack is coming after last week’s kidnap of seven foreigners from an Afren oil rig by a faction of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main militant group in the region.