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Shell warns on Nigeria Bonny oil exports


By Nick Tattersall

LAGOS, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) warned on Thursday that unrest in Nigeria’s Niger Delta meant it may be unable to meet some oil export obligations from its Bonny terminal for the rest of this month and some of next.

The Anglo-Dutch energy giant said it had declared force majeure on its Bonny oil shipments with effect from Tuesday, Feb. 10 because of “logistics challenges” caused by insecurity in the delta, home to Africa’s biggest oil and gas industry.

It had only lifted a previous force majeure — which frees it from contractual obligations — on Bonny Light shipments from Nigeria just over a month ago.

“It will affect the remainder of February and perhaps March offtakes with some deferred to April,” a Shell spokesman in Nigeria said.

An earlier force majeure covering Bonny liquefied natural gas (LNG) also remained in place, the company said.

Africa’s top oil producer has one of the world’s highest incidence of piracy, second only to Somalia, while the creeks of the Niger Delta — one of the world’s largest wetlands — are notoriously difficult to police.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main militant group in the region, called off a five-month-old ceasefire almost two weeks ago and warned of a “sweeping assault” on the oil and gas industry.

Criminal gangs have also been attacking ships in the waters around the region’s mangrove creeks and kidnapping oil workers from the main industry hub of Port Harcourt and elsewhere.



Gunmen attacked an oil tanker and an oil services vessel at the Bonny crude loading platform last month and used dynamite to attack another tanker loaded with 4,000 tonnes of diesel at the nearby Bonny Fairway Buoy.

Shipping agents and industry sources said last month that heightened security measures at export terminals since the start of the year, including the restriction of oil loading onto vessels to daylight hours, were delaying shipments.

Violence in the Niger Delta has cut at least a fifth of the OPEC member’s oil output over the last three years. It has also threatened gas supplies. Nigeria provides around 10 percent of world LNG, much of it going to Europe and the United States.

Oil Minister Rilwanu Lukman said last month the country was pumping around 2 million barrels of crude oil per day (bpd) although shipment schedules suggest lower exports of around 1.66 million bpd this month and 1.70 million in March.

Shell was forced to declare force majeure on Bonny Light shipments last July due to underproduction caused by repeated sabotage attacks against oil pipelines and facilities. It lifted that measure in early January.

Nigeria’s white collar oil workers’ union PENGASSAN has threatened an indefinite strike unless urgent measures are taken to improve security, although it has postponed industrial action which it had pledged to start from last Monday.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: ) (Additional reporting by Randy Fabi in Abuja; Editing by Randy Fabi)


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