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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Nigeria’s Oil-Export Reliability at Risk

February 11, 2008; Page A14

Nigeria is at risk of losing its credibility as a reliable supplier of crude oil, traders and analysts say, as worsening rebel attacks hold back exports.

Anxiety over the latest Nigerian disruptions helped to push oil futures above $90 a barrel Friday.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil exporter, and its crude, easy to make into gasoline, is highly prized by refiners. But oil companies have had to endure attacks on installations and kidnappings of staff.

The government “appears to have done little in the last few months to curb the violence in the country’s oil-producing region,” said Thomas Pearmain, a London-based energy analyst at consultancy Global Insight.

Nigeria was producing less than 2.2 million barrels of oil a day in December, according to the International Energy Agency, which watches oil markets on behalf of industrialized nations. Nigeria estimates it has production capacity of about three million barrels a day. The IEA estimates capacity of 2.47 million barrels a day.

The unrest comes at a time of rising friction between the Nigerian authorities and the international oil companies operating in the West African country. Nigeria’s government last year said it wanted to renegotiate production-sharing contracts to give it a bigger share of revenue.

And financing issues have been raising tensions inside Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s Nigerian joint venture, Shell Petroleum Development Corp. Shell has criticized the government for failing to abide by its funding obligations to the venture, 55% owned by state-run National Nigerian Petroleum Corp. and 30% owned by Shell.

In an alarming sign of the deteriorating security situation, Shell last week declared force majeure on its crude exports from Nigeria for the second time in two months, indemnifying it from litigation if it fails to honor supply contracts. Shell said security concerns had kept workers from fixing a pipeline that feeds its Bonny Light export terminal. That closes off 130,000 barrels a day.

Only a month ago, Shell declared force majeure on export contracts from its Forcados terminal in western Nigeria for January and February, after two pipelines connecting to the hub were sabotaged.

About 477,000 barrels a day of the Shell joint venture’s production have been shut in since February 2006, largely because of security problems.

–Benoît Fauçon contributed to this article.

Write to Angela Henshall at [email protected] and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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