Shell closes pipeline in Nigeria

Shell Nigeria has shut down its Trans Niger Pipeline because of major leaks.


LAGOS - Shell Nigeria said on Wednesday it had shut down its Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) owing to reports of leaks, deferring 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil just 10 days after the pipeline was re-opened.

"The latest leaks were reported at B-Dere, Nonwa-Tai, and Bodo West, all in Ogoniland. Shell Nigeria shut the line as a precautionary measure ... and has also mobilised a spill response team," Shell Nigeria spokesperson Precious Okolobo said in an email to Reuters.

He added the cause of the leak was under investigation.

The company blamed the previous shutdown of the TNP on pipeline vandalism by oil thieves. That led Shell to declare force majeure on its Bonny Light crude and on gas supplied to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) company on September 23.

The pipeline was re-opened again on September 30, which enabled the force majeure on crude to be lifted last Friday - and the one on gas on Monday.

Africa's biggest oil exporter has been producing around 15 percent below its 2.5 million bpd capacity this year due to widespread oil theft and leakages from ageing pipelines.

Environmental campaigners say a failure to replace its decrepit 50-year-old equipment is as much to blame as sabotage.