Suspected Sabotage Cuts Oil Export by 300,000bpd

THISDAY Newspaper- Ejiofor Alike

Nigeria’s crude oil export has suffered a major setback as Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has declared force majeure on about 300,000 barrels per day Bonny Light loadings for June and July 2011.

Before the latest incident, Nigeria’s crude oil export was 2.4 million barrels daily, while she was also exporting 200,000 barrels of condensate per day.

The declaration of force majeure, which frees the oil giant from all contractual obligations to its customers due to unforeseen circumstances, followed what it called “production cutbacks” caused by leaks and fires on the company’s Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP).

The company did not disclose the volume of crude oil affected by the force majeure, but according to the earlier loading schedules, 10 cargoes of Bonny Light of about 950,000 barrels each were shipped in May 2011, totalling over 300,000 barrels of crude per day.

However, following the operational problems Shell was said to have experienced at the 400,000 barrels per day capacity Bonny Export Terminal, the company had planned to revise exports of Bonny Light for June and July to eight and nine cargoes respectively, translating to over 250,000 barrels per day.

THISDAY, however, could not confirm if the loadings were eventually revised as scheduled.

But confirming the latest development in a statement yesterday, Corporate Media Relations Manager of Shell, Mr Tony Okonedo, attributed the force majeure, which came into effect on “June 13, 2011”, to last week’s fire on the company’s TNP.

According to him, joint investigation visits comprising government agencies, communities and SPDC found that the incidents were caused by hacksaw cuts which indicate third party interference and activities of unknown persons.

“The leaks have been repaired leading to resumption of production on June 12. The TNP which transports production from SPDC and third parties in its Eastern operations to Bonny Terminal, was affected by leaks and five separate fire incidents on both the 24’ and 28’ lines in Bodo, Bera, Biera and Mogho all in Ogoni land, on June 9. SPDC immediately shut the lines, mobilised its pipelines response and fire fighting teams and extinguished the fires by June 11,” Okonedo said.

He also confirmed that the production deferment over the period had affected the loading programme at Bonny Export Terminal, adding that the company would advise customers of a revised schedule.

Reacting to the incident, the Vice-President HSE, Infrastructure & Logistics, Shell Sub Saharan Africa, Babs Omotowa, said the leaks and fires were indication of a worrying trend not only on the TNP but also on the company’s facilities in other places.

“Sadly, the trend is continuing unabated. At end April, we recorded more than 35 sabotage spills. SPDC is continuing to upgrade facilities, replace pipelines and improve oil spill response systems. But no matter how much we improve our performance, until the activities of oil thieves and illegal refiners are brought to an end, the vast majority of oil spills in the Niger Delta will continue,” Omotowa said.


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