Nigeria: Shell Puts Force Majeure On Bonny Light, Resumes Bonga Oilfields Output

The Moment (London)

Anayo Korie

6 January 2012

ROYAL Dutch Shell, has declared force majeure on its Bonny Light crude oil exports, while output has resumed in its Bonga oilfields at 250, 000 barrels per day, a company spokesman said on Thursday.

The force majeure, however, took effect on Thursday, Shell spokesman, Jonathan French, has said.

‘A force majeure is a French word meaning chance occurrence, unavoidable accident,’ a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, or an event described by the legal term act of God (such as hurricane, flooding, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc.), prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

The company said the force majeure has been put in place on Bonny Light loadings because of a leak, which was caused by theft incidents on the Nembe Creek trunk line in the Niger Delta.

He said the leak was unrelated to a separate issue in the Bonga oilfield, where industry sources said output resumed on January 1, after a clean-up of the oil spill that occurred on December 20 has been completed at the 200,000 barrel per day (bpd) facility, which supplies around 10 per cent of Nigeria’s total output, the company said in a statement.

It also said its offshore 115,000-barrel-per day (bpd), EA oil field resumed production on December 27, after it was shut down for maintenance work.

‘Clean-up of the December 20 leak from the Bonga offshore oil field has now been completed successfully. Production resumed at Bonga on January 1, 2012, following reinforcement of asset integrity and safety programmes,’ Shell said.

Affected communities have said oil from the spill at Bonga, 120 kilometres offshore, had washed up on the coast, blackening stretches of it and killing fish, but Shell has denied that the oil could be from the Bonga facility.

‘Satellite and aerial imagery has confirmed that the Bonga oil leak could not have reached coastlines in the eastern Niger Delta,’ the statement said, adding that the oil washing up on the coast must have been a ‘third party spill.’

Spills by all oil companies operating in the region are common, and it is sometimes hard to tell where they originate.

‘Oil from the Bonga leak had largely dispersed by Sunday, December 25, 2011 due to the integrated efforts in the application of dispersants and natural processes of dispersal,’ the statement added.

Shell’s pipelines in Nigeria’s onshore Niger Delta have spilled oil several times. The company usually blames such leaks on sabotage attacks and rampant oil theft.

The company had said on Wednesday it was working to plug a leak caused by sabotage, which shut its 70,000 bpd Nembe Creek pipeline.

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