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Reuters: Shell hopes for Nigeria EA oilfield restart soon (updated)

By Tom Bergin and Barbara Lewis
Fri Apr 7, 2006 11:18 AM BST
PARIS (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) hopes to restart the smallest of its Nigerian oilfields soon, the firm's exploration and production chief said on Friday, almost two months after rebels halted a quarter of Nigerian output. “We have got to go and review the assets (of the EA field) when the security situation allows but I am hopeful that will be soon,” Malcolm Brinded told reporters at an oil conference.
Nigeria's biggest foreign operator Shell pulled out of parts of the Niger delta in February after rebels launched a new wave of attacks against oil installations and took foreign workers hostage. They say they want access to Nigeria's oil wealth.
The loss of around 500,000 barrels per day of high quality Nigerian oil — most of it pumped by Shell — has contributed to a rally in the oil price towards its $70 (40 pounds) a barrel record high.
U.S. oil was down 84 cents at $67.08 on Friday after Brinded's comments. Nigeria is the world's eighth biggest crude exporter and a major supplier to the United States.
Nigeria's Minister of State for Petroleum Edmund Daukoru, also in Paris, said he was optimistic the roughly 120,000 bpd offshore EA field would be back by the beginning of next week.
He also held out the hope that Shell's major onshore Forcados oilfield and export terminal would resume work “in about a month”. Shell has given no indication on timing and has said it will not send its staff back until violence eases.
The majority of Shell's Nigerian production is onshore. A total of around 455,000 bpd of its output is shut.
“A large chunk of the shut-in production is because of a single loading facility. There is some damage but I believe a month should be adequate,” Daukoru said of Forcados.
Brinded said a solution to the conflict in the Niger Delta appeared closer after a meeting on Wednesday between Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and community leaders from the area.
“After the meeting that the president held this week I'm optimistic that we'll be able to go and review (the EA field) in the near future,” Brinded said

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