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Reuters: Shell says oil theft in Nigeria growing again

Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:10 AM BST

CAPE TOWN, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile , Research) said on Wednesday that crude oil theft at sites in Nigeria was rising, posing a problem for development and a safety risk for those engaging in the practice.

“It is on the rise again,” Ann Pickard, regional executive vice-president for Shell Exploration & Production Africa Ltd., said at the Africa Upstream 2007 oil conference in Cape Town.

Shell, the world’s second-largest non government-controlled oil company by market capitalisation, is among a handful of oil majors affected by political unrest in Nigeria, the largest oil producer in Africa.

In 2006 the company shut down oilfields pumping about 500,000 barrels a day in the Niger Delta, a heartland for the west African nation’s oil sector, after attacks by a group called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

MEND, which is campaigning for spill compensation, also claimed responsibility for an attack on the offshore EA oilfield earlier this month in which seven workers contracted to Shell were abducted for two days.

The EA field, which can pump 115,000 bpd, has been closed since an earlier attack in February 2006.

MEND had observed a ceasefire since the inauguration of President Umaru Yar’Adua in May, who promised to address armed groups’ grievances of poverty and neglect.

But it threatened to resume kidnappings and attacks after the arrest last month of one of its leaders, Henry Okah, in Angola on gun running charges.

Pickard said Shell was slowly returning to the region, but continued to see security as a top priority there.

© Reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved. 

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