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AFX Europe (Focus): Shell starts production in new Nigerian offshore field

Shell starts production in new Nigerian offshore field
AFX Europe (Focus); May 02, 2006

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LAGOS (AFX) – Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell today began pumping oil from a newly tapped field off the Nigerian coast, further boosting the already growing output of Africa's biggest crude exporter.

In a statement, Shell said production had begun on an offshore rig in the Erha deepwater development off southern Nigeria's Niger Delta coast.

“The first phase of the Erha and Erha North Development will create a nameplate capacity of about 210,000 barrels of oil a day, and about 300 mln cubic feet of gas,” the Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Co (SNEPCo) said.

SNEPCo managing director Chima Ibeneche said Erha would rival Shell's first deepwater field off Nigeria, the massive Bonga development, and vastly increase the firm's production.

“Erha and our Bonga project combined will reach a capacity level of over 430,000 barrels of oil a day… Nigeria's deepwater remains a frontier growth opportunity for Shell,” he said.

Nigeria exported around 2.5 mln barrels per day over the past year, but since January attacks by separatist militants on rigs and pipelines in the Niger Delta swamps have cut production by up to a quarter.

With onshore wells increasingly vulnerable to guerrilla attacks, oil majors are concentrating on developing new deepwater projects like Erha and Nigeria hopes to hit production of 4 mln barrels per day by 2010.

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