BP oil engineer seized in Colombia

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The Independent Online
A SCOTTISH engineer working under contract for the oil giant BP Amoco is believed to have been kidnapped by Marxist rebels in Colombia.

The 45-year-old man, named by Colombian police as Alistair Taylor, was seized by gunmen in a truck, on Friday morning, near oil fields in the eastern plains region. Police in Bogota said he had been travelling from Yopal, provincial capital of Casanare province, to the village of Morichal.

A Foreign Office spokesman last night confirmed that a British national, believed to be Mr Taylor, was feared kidnapped, and that it was understood BP Amoco had been in touch with his family. Although no one had claimed responsibility for the abduction, police said guerrillas were the likely culprits.

Mr Taylor worked as manager of the industrial engineering firm, Weatherford Colombia, in the Cusiana-Cupiagua complex, which has an average daily production of 440,000 barrels of crude oil. The field is operated by BP Amoco, the country's largest foreign investor.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN), have a heavy presence in Casanare. Both groups, which have a combined fighting force of about 20,000 combatants and control up to half the country, are fiercely opposed to what they see as the excessive involvement of foreign multinationals in Colombia's oil industry. They frequently sabotage energy infrastructure to force foreign oil firms to pull out.

Colombia is widely recognised as the kidnapping capital of the world. So far this year there have been more than 1,400 reported abductions, which have included 20 foreigners. Most kidnappings are blamed on guerrillas, who use heavy ransom payments to finance their three-decade- old effort to topple the state.

Last week, the FARC bombed a 38,000 barrel-per-day oil pipeline linked to 14 oil fields.

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