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Bloomberg: Shell Stops Gas Pumping in Nigeria After Fire on Pipeline

By Eduard Gismatullin

Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, shut natural gas pumping at one of its Nigerian fields following a fire on a pipeline in the south of the country.

Nigerian unit Shell Petroleum Development Co. reported the fire on the Utorogu-Ughelli gas condensate pipeline in the Delta state yesterday, Alexandra Wright, a London-based company spokeswoman, said today. Shell had to declare force majeure on deliveries to the nation’s gas pipeline network, she said.

“The cause of the fire is not immediately known,” Wright said by telephone. “The helicopter over-flight confirmed the fire” around Otor-Edo in the Ughelli South Local government area.

Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper reported today that the fire broke out because of an attempt to tap the line to siphon off the fuel. Wright said the helicopter inspection spotted abandoned hoses and drums, without elaborating on the cause of the fire.

The company deferred production of about 300 million cubic feet of gas a day, which is pumped together with gas condensate, she said. Shell has shut down the gas plant feeding the pipeline.

Shell workers are trying to reach the damaged stretch to repair the pipeline. Wright declined to comment on how long production will be suspended.

A gasoline pipeline blaze in Nigeria killed at least 269 people in Lagos in December. Pipeline vandalism is a recurring problem in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eduard Gismatullin in London at [email protected]

Last Updated: October 13, 2007 09:39 EDT

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