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AFX News Limited: Shell confident Nigerian production will return by year-end

LONDON (Thomson Financial) – Royal Dutch Shell has high hopes for Nigerian oil production following a seemingly democratic presidential election two months ago, said a company official.

Malcom Brinded, Shell’s head of exploration and production, said the company expects to see some production return at the end of this year after the presidential elections in April this year passed with surprisingly little violent incidences.

‘The extent of violence was less than expected,’ he told delegates at an oil and gas conference hosted by Credit Suisse. ‘We indicate that towards the back end of this year some of the (lost) production will be restored,’ said Brinded. He refused to give specific dates and volumes to protect Shell workers in Nigeria.

Up to 95 pct of export revenues in Nigeria come from the oil sector.

However, national oil output has been cut by around 25 pct for more than a year now because of attacks against the energy industry by militants demanding a greater share of the country’s oil wealth.

That 25 pct swelled to about 30 pct shortly after new president Umaru Yar’Adua was elected, as speculation his win was corrupt and rigged sparked more violence.

In reality, his victory represents the first time presidency has been handed over democratically from one civilian to another.

Brinded at Shell said after he ‘spent time’ with Yar’Adua in several meetings he is confident the new leader has ‘an absolute clear vision’ for policies affecting the oil sector.

At his inauguration last week, Yar’Adua called for a cease-fire in the oil rich Niger Delta and vowed to improve the situation.

On Saturday, main militant group Mend said it would halt attacks on oil installations for a month in a bid to engage in talks with the government.

Latest reports say Nigerian state governors have called for the release of a militant leader, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, in an attempt to appease rebels.

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