Force majeure, a legal step that protects a company from liability when it can’t fulfill a contract for reasons beyond its control, was lifted from 4 p.m. local time on March 19, Precious Okolobo, a Shell spokesman said by phone today from the southern oil hub of Port Harcourt. “Investigation showed that the leak was caused by a failed theft point on the pipeline,” he said.
Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer and a major supplier of U.S. crude imports. Shell, the largest producer in the West African country, operates a joint venture in the nation in which it holds a 30 percent stake and state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp owns 55 percent. Total SA has a 10 percent stake and Eni SpA (ENI) holds 5 percent.
Shell plans to briefly shut the 150,000 barrel-a-day Nembe Creek Trunkline in April to clear theft points along the export link, Okolobo said.
Exports of Bonny Light will rise to eight cargoes in May, including three lots deferred from April, according to a loading program obtained by Bloomberg News. The size of the consignments ranges from 175,000 to 1 million barrels.
The company on March 5 declared force majeure on Bonny Light shipments after it discovered a leak on the Nembe Creek link. Shell said the pipeline, replaced in 2010 at a cost of $1.1 billion, remains at risk from thieves that drill holes to tap oil. Twelve oil flow-stations supplying the Nembe pipeline were shut three times in four days in February because of theft, the company said March 4.
Loading programs are monthly schedules of crude shipments compiled by field operators to allow buyers and sellers to plan their supply and trading activities.
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