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Reopening of Forcados Terminal — Bad News for Crude Prices

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Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 22.18.50By Staff Writer on Sep 1, 2016 at 12:30 pm EST

After militant attacks on its oil facilities in Nigeria, as well as numerous pipeline outages, Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Forcados pipeline in the West African country is at last ready to start deliveries this month.

According to Bloomberg, Kola Karim, CEO of Shoreline Group, an energy company that uses the terminal, said operations were expected to resume in the middle of September. A spokesman for the company declined to comment on the matter.

Described as “a tough situation for us these past couple of months” by Mr. Karim, the company’s latest move would not only be beneficial for its reduced production level, but also for the resource-strapped Nigerian economy.

Being an integral part of the company’s energy infrastructure, the Forcados terminal has been a major target of Nigerian militants since early 2016. After militants blew up a main line feeding the terminal, Shell declared force majeure in February — a legal cause that allows it to halt shipments without violating contracts — thereby halting shipments from the terminal that typically exports about 200,000 barrels of crude per day.

Although the Niger Delta Avengers, which has claimed the majority of attacks on Nigeria’s oil facilities, have agreed to halt terrorist activities, other militants have surfaced. A recent attack this week on the Ogor-Oteri pipeline in the Delta region has been claimed by the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate. The pipeline, jointly owned by Shoreline and Nigerian Petroleum Development Co., had already stopped operations following the attack on the Forcados terminal.

According to Karim, Shoreline is still trying to identify the location and evaluate the damage from Tuesday’s attack in Delta state.

Dolapo Oni, the Lagos-based head of Ecobank Energy Research, said that although other militant groups were trying to assert themselves, it would not serve as a deterrent to the September opening. According to Emmanuel Kachikwu, Minister of State for Petroleum, Nigeria expects production of 1.5 million barrels per day following the resumption, up from 2 million barrels of oil per day in 2015.

“With Forcados, we are likely to regain output at 1.8 million barrels a day and should be able to sustain that till year-end, which is a major boost for government revenue,” Oni said.

The militants, who have been struggling for independence since long, have consistently demanded that foreign oil groups immediately exit the Delta region, accusing energy majors for the unfair distribution of oil wealth. The production and operations of oil conglomerates such as Eni SpA (ADR) (NYSE:E) and Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) have been severely affected by the militant attacks.

Ironically, the resumption of operations is not good news for the global oil market. Beset by weak demand growth and strong supply, resumption of production from one of the largest terminals may add to the global oil glut, lowering energy prices even further.

Currently, oil prices hover below $50 per barrel with the West Texas Intermediate trading at $44.7 per barrel and the Brent crude trading at $46.83 per barrel.

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