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Shell shuts down two gas plants in Nigeria

11 March 2010: LAGOS — Shell said Thursday it had closed down two gas plants feeding Nigeria’s power stations so that it could carry out repairs on a damaged supply pipeline in the restive oil-producing region.

“We have closed down Sapele and Oben gas plants for technical reasons. The closure will be temporary as the company is working round-the-clock to restore normal production,” Shell’s spokesman Precious Okolobo told AFP.

The suspensions were needed to allow repairs on the Trans Forcados Pipeline (TFP) which had been sabotaged by unknown people, he said.

Sapele and Oben were shut in 2008 because of attacks on the pipeline infrastructure and they resumed production last November.

Nigerian officials attribute shortage of gas to feed the power plants as the reason for inadequate electricity supply in the west African country.

Nigeria’s southern oil-producing region is returning to stability after years of unrest during which the country, the world’s eighth largest exporter of crude, saw its output slashed by a third.

Thousands of rebels seeking a bigger share of revenues for their local communities recently laid down arms in response to a government amnesty.

Shell says it has been producing about two-thirds of Nigeria’s total domestic gas volumes, mainly for power generation, over the past few years.

Oil- and gas-rich Nigeria produces around 3,000 megawatts of electricity for a population of 150 million people. By comparison, South Africa generates 15 times more for a population one-third its size.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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