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AFP: Shell reopens gas plant in southern Nigeria

LAGOS (AFP) — Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has reopened a 300-million-standard cubit feet gas plant in southern Nigeria that was shut down last week because of a fire on its supply pipeline.

“Utorogu Gas Plant which was shut in a bit to starve the fire has reopened and gas supply is ramping up,” the company said in a statement late Thursday.

It said production resumed at the plant after temporary repairs on the 10-inch Utorogu-Ughelli pumping station condensate trunkline that was set on fire on October 12 by suspected vandals.

Shell however said the force majeure it declared on gas supplies in the wake of the incident was still in force.

Local media had reported that around 10 people were burnt alive while scooping condensate, a by-product of oil, from the burst pipeline.

The Anglo-Dutch group also said it had put out the fires caused by sabotage on its Trans Niger pipeline in the oil-rich but volatile Ogoniland.

“The company’s firefighters put out the final fire on October 16, 2007. With this development, all the six fires in Ogoniland are now out and all the vandalised sections repaired,” it said.

The Trans Niger pipeline is a major facility that evacuates crude from Shell and third party facilities to the Bonny exports terminal, but Ogoni residents initially denied Shell access to the fires which raged since June.

Ogoniland is a hotbed of civil unrest in the Niger Delta, home to Nigeria’s multi-billion-dollar oil and gas resources.

Shell’s supply pipelines still pass through the area despite the company being forced to quit Ogoniland in 1993 because of Ogoni community opposition to foreign oil companies — particularly Shell, which is accused of destroying their ecosystem without paying adequate compensation.

Shell is Nigeria’s largest operator, accounting for around half of the country’s daily output of 2.6 million barrels at peak production, a quarter of which is lost to unrest in the Niger Delta.
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