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Associated Press: Shell shuts off some Nigerian oil output

KATHERINE HOURELD

LAGOS, Nigeria – Royal Dutch Shell PLC has shut off 180,000 barrels of daily crude-oil production in Nigeria because of an unexplained pipeline leak, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

The shutdown of the pipeline in the eastern Niger Delta brings the company’s total daily production losses in Nigeria to more than 650,000 barrels a day – two-thirds of which is due to violence in the region.

It was not immediately known what caused the pipeline leak, which was first noticed Friday, a Shell spokesman said. He declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media about the matter.

Production difficulties in Nigeria, Iraq and the Gulf of Mexico have unsettled oil markets at a time of rising global demand and a limited supply cushion.

On Tuesday, light sweet crude futures for September delivery traded at $74 a barrel, down $1.05 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Shell officials shut down the pipeline in Nembe Creek, in southeastern Rivers State, over the weekend. Authorities are trying to determine what caused the leak, but residents in the region were preventing them from getting to the site to investigate.

The spokesman said that until preliminary investigations were complete it was impossible to say when the problem could be repaired.

Nigeria’s volatile Niger Delta region has been the seen of frequent disputes between oil companies and communities who have for years demanded a greater share of the wealth of Africa’s largest crude producer.

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