updated 1/12/2006 5:20:54 AM ET 2006-01-12T10:20:54

Gunmen stormed an offshore oil platform run by Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria and seized four foreign oil workers, a company official said Thursday.

The workers were kidnapped late Wednesday from an anchored supply vessel at Shell’s EA oil platform in shallow waters off the southern Niger Delta and taken to an unknown location, the Shell official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. He had no other details, and the nationalities of the kidnapped workers were not immediately known.

Britain’s Press Association reported at least one Briton was believed to be among those kidnapped, citing an unnamed company official.

Local communities in Nigeria have been demanding a greater share of revenues from the oil flowing from their land for years. Hostage-taking is common, and kidnapped workers are usually released unharmed.

Previous abductions
Shell workers running the EA platform have been taken hostage twice in the past year over a dispute with neighboring communities, who accuse the company of reneging on a promise to undertake development projects for their impoverished region.

A Croatian was seized in December 2004 and freed days later. Two Germans and four Nigerian oil workers were taken hostage in June and later freed.

Nigeria produces about 2.5 million barrels of oil a day.

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