Nigerian oil unions launch strike over security fears

Oil unions launched a three-day strike Wednesday over worsening security in Nigeria's oil-rich region as Chevron confirmed the death of one subcontractor and injuries to two others in the restive southern area.

The country's two biggest petroleum industry unions had called the action to protest the death of another worker, killed three weeks ago in a shoot-out between government forces and militants amid rising violence in the Niger Delta. It began Wednesday, with both company and union officials saying staff were staying home although disagreeing over the impact on oil exports.

On Tuesday, gunmen attacked a boat carrying Chevron-affiliated workers in the waterways of the oil-rich southern Niger Delta, and one worker died, labor union officials said. Chevron confirmed the death Wednesday and said two others were injured.

"We confirm the fatality of one contract staff on a supply vessel," said Chevron spokesman Femi Odumabo.

He had no immediate comment on whether the strike would affect their output. But a London-based spokeswoman for Royal Dutch Shell, Nigeria's biggest producer, said it was unlikely production would be greatly affected, reports AP.

"Arrangements have been made to reduce the impact of the strike on production, loading and the provision of essential services," said Eurwen Thomas.

Nigeria's oil minister said he didn't expect the strike to have a significant impact on production.