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Shell Nigeria Declares Force Majeure On Bonny Light

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

APRIL 15, 2009, 8:14 A.M. ET

LONDON (Dow Jones)–Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s (RDSB.LN) Nigerian joint venture has declared force majeure on its Bonny light crude oil shipments following a pipeline fire, a spokesman for the parent company said Wednesday, the latest output disruption from the troubled Niger Delta operation.

The Trans-Niger pipeline, where a manifold caught fire Sunday, normally supplies 150,000 barrels a day.

The declaration, which was made Tuesday at 1200 p.m. local time, or 1100 GMT, by Shell’s local unit, Shell Petroleum Development Co., or SPDC, protects the supplier from lawsuits for not meeting oil deliveries to customers due to actions outside the company’s control.

The Royal Dutch Shell spokesman said the force majeure would be in place for April and May but declined to give details of the amount of oil involved.

He added that the fire has been extinguished and “SPDC is working to repair the line” and some affected production has been restored.

Last month, SPDC was already forced to declare force majeure on some Niger Delta supplies after an attack on a pipeline that sends crude from its Forcados fields to the Escravos export terminal.

Nigeria’s main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, has been waging a campaign against oil installations since 2006. The Niger Delta, Nigeria’s main oil-producing region, is also a hotbed for oil theft by locals who tap into pipelines and sell the crude oil on the thriving black market, causing an environmental mess for villages.

Around one quarter of Nigeria’s effective pumping capacity, or around 600,000 barrels a day, has been continuously shut in recent months because of militant attacks. Much of that production is operated by SPDC. But attacks this year have also hit the operations of U.S.-based Chevron Corp. (CVX) and Italy’s Eni SpA (E).

-By Benoit Faucon, Dow Jones Newswires; +44 77 601 777 36; [email protected]

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