VENTURES AFRICA – Shell has closed its Bomu-Bonny Trunkline in Nigeria, due to fires caused by an alleged oil theft attempt, delaying production of 150,000 barrels per day.
This announcement comes as Nigeria – Africa’s largest oil producer, and the continent’s second largest economy – today celebrates its 52nd independence anniversary.
The West-African country became an oil-producer in 1958, two years before achieving independence from the British. Aptly, it was Shell who first discovered oil reserves in Nigeria during explorations at Oloibiri in the Niger delta.
It is, then, symbolic, that the company, which is today Nigeria’s biggest oil producer, should have to halt productions on the Bomu-Bonny pipeline – a major pipeline in the region – as fires ravage the line causing significant damage. Discovered yesterday, the company has made assurances that it has mobilised all resources to fight the fire, and will begin reparations to the line as soon as the fires are contained and stopped.
It is alleged that the fires were caused by thieves who damaged the line in an attempt to tap into the pipeline and suction off oil – a common occurrence which plagues oil producers in Nigeria, particularly in the Niger delta region to the south of the country. Shell reported sightings of a burning vessel near to the site of the damaged pipeline – with pictures widely available of the accused ship, currently ravaged by fire and enveloped in thick oil-smoke.
Tony Attah, Shell’s Vice President for Health, Safety, Environment and Corporate Affairs for Sub-Saharan Africa commented: “this incident clearly demonstrates the scale of the oil theft problem which, alongside the hundreds of illegal refineries in the Delta, is having such a profound effect on the people, communities and the environment”, Nigeria’s Channels Television reports.
The Bomu-Bonny Trunkline is important to the region’s oil production infrastructure, as it transports crude oil to the Bonny export terminal. The pipeline carries Nigeria’s Bonny Light – the country’s benchmark crude oil which is referred to in the pricing of all other oils produced by Nigeria. It also accounts for approximately 10 per cent of Nigeria’s oil exports.
In 1958, Nigeria began production at its first oil field pumping 5,100 barrels per day. The country had achieved production of nearly 2 million barrels per day by the late 1960s. Despite a significant oil-demand slump in the 1980s, the Nigerian oil industry has bounced back to become the global leader in oil production.
The Central Bank of Nigeria reported in September that the country had pumped 2.12 million barrels per day in the second quarter of 2012.