A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Shell declares force majeure over Nembe Creek pipeline shutdown

05 January 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – Shell has declared force majeure on Bonny light crude loadings in Nigeria as it continues repair work on its Nembe Creek pipeline, which it claims was damaged by “crude oil thieves” two weeks ago.

The action is with effect from Thursday morning but there is no confirmation from the Anglo-Dutch supermajor as to how long it will remain in place.

An unknown quantity of oil has spilled from the Nembe Creek pipeline which was shut-in on 24 December, although over 200 barrels of oil have already been cleaned up.

Shell Petroleum Development Co (SPDC), the Anglo-Dutch supermajor’s unit in Nigeria, has begun “mobilising to repair” the line.

Shell said earlier this week that the company hopes to complete repairs by the end of January.

“Some 70,000 barrels of oil per day is deferred,” SPDC wrote of the 90-kilometre-long line.

A Shell spokesperson had confirmed on Wednesday that a force majeure declaration had not at that time been made regarding the spill and shut-in.

“A joint investigation conducted by DPR, the Bayelsa State Ministry of Environment, SPDC and the community showed oil thieves had installed valves at two points near the Tora manifold in Nembe in Bayelsa State,” SPDC wrote earlier this week.

Shell’s vice president for HSE and corporate affairs for Sub-Saharan Africa Tony Attah commented: “What is really worrying about this leak is that it happened on a facility which was commissioned in October 2009 to replace an old line which was repeatedly targeted by crude oil thieves.”

Although it occurred almost two weeks ago, the Nembe Creek spill has been overshadowed by the much larger spill at Shell’s Bonga floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit off Nigeria just days before.

Around 40,000 barrels of oil were spilled from a damaged export line running from the FPSO to a waiting tanker during a routine transfer operation on 20 December.

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