Royal Dutch Shell has closed a key oil pipeline due to oil theft less than a week after it announced it had reopened, underscoring the huge challenges faced by Africa’s largest oil exporter.
Leaks from crude oil theft on the Trans Niger Pipeline in Nigeria have continued, causing a further shut-in of Bonny Light grade oil, Shell said on Friday.
It had announced on Monday that the 150,000 bpd pipeline re-opened, prompting speculation that a force majeure may be lifted.
An estimated 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil was stolen from pipelines in the Niger Delta in the first quarter of this year, the report by London-based Chatham House said, not including the unknown quantities stolen from export terminals.
Shell’s statement said that the latest shut-in had occurred on Wednesday 18 Sept “following reports of a leaking crude theft point at Bodo West in Ogoniland.”
The statement also said that the Nembe Creek Trunkline is closed as Shell is removing illegal connections.
It added that in the western Niger Delta the Trans Escravos Pipeline was shut down on Sept 12 for removal of illegal connections and reopened on Sept 16.
“While the Trans Niger Pipeline has since been repaired and reopened from the crude theft leaks which forced its closure on July 16, similar incidents have caused several shut-ins thereafter.”