ExxonMobil declares force majeure on Qua Iboe crude

22 November 2012, Sweetcrude, Lagos – US supermajor, ExxonMobil, has declared force majeure on its Qua Iboe crude oil exports from Nigeria due to outages caused by an oil spill on November 9, which has spread about 20 miles down the coastline in Ibeno, south east of Nigeria.

ExxonMobil thus becomes the fourth oil major in a month to warn customers over delays to Nigerian oil and gas exports, adding to the country’s woes from oil spills, theft and flooding.

“There are issues with two areas on a pipeline resulting in hydrocarbon release offshore,” an oil trader commented to Reuters.

Mark Ward, the managing director of Mobil Poducing Nigeria Unlimited, Exxon Mobil’s local unit, told the news wire service a cleanup had been mobilised, and he apologised to affected communities for the spill.

Shell meanwhile lifted on Wednesday its force majeure on Nigeria’s benchmark Bonny Light crude oil exports, easing some of the supply concerns.

Three of Nigeria main oil grades; Qua Iboe, Brass River and Forcados are under force majeure, together accounting for around 700,000 barrels per day or about a third of total Nigerian exports.

Total and Eni have also declared force majeure, on gas and oil supplies, respectively.

Nigeria is among the world’s top 10 crude oil exporters and usually ships around 2 million barrels per day, but a major fire caused by oil theft, Exxon’s spill and flooding have severely hit output.

Oil traders said that loading delays are worsening and are now up to two weeks for some cargoes.

Shell’s outages were prompted by a huge fire on an oil tanker being used to steal oil last month. The Anglo-Dutch supermajor shut another pipeline in Imo River on 31 October due to theft damage and deferred 25,000 barrels per day.

Oil theft is a major problem in the Niger Delta, where Nigeria estimates around 150,000 barrels per day is stolen, much of which is sold abroad.

Total last week restarted production from its 90,000 barrels per day OML 58 block, which was shut down a month ago due to severe flooding in the Delta swamplands.

Eni declared force majeure earlier this month on Brass River oil loadings due to floods, causing cargo delays of eight to 10 days.

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