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Shell Shuts Nigeria’s Bonga Field After Leak During Loading

December 21, 2011, 5:39 AM EST

By Eduard Gismatullin

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, shut its 200,000 barrel-a-day Bonga field off Nigeria after oil leaked during a tanker loading.

An export line from the field’s floating production, storage and offloading vessel was the likely cause of the leak, estimated at less than 40,000 barrels of crude, Shell said in a statement today. The oil flow has been halted.

“We are sorry this leak has happened,” Mutiu Sunmonu, the company’s Nigerian chairman, said in the statement. “It is important to stress that this was not a well-control incident of any sort, and to make clear that no-one has been injured.”

Shell, the largest foreign oil producer in Nigeria, has been operating in the African nation since 1937 and has been criticized by the local population and international institutions for numerous spills in the country at its onshore fields. Bonga, Nigeria’s first deepwater discovery, lies 120 kilometers (75 miles) off the coast and produces almost 10 percent of the country’s crude.

Shell planned to export five cargoes of 1 million barrels each of Bonga crude every month from December to February, according to loading programs obtained by Bloomberg News.

Shell’s shares pared gains in London trading and were up 0.8 percent at 2,296.5 pence at 8:45 a.m. local time.

The company yesterday said a drilling operation will stop for weeks in the Gulf of Mexico after spilling 319 barrels of drilling fluid.

–With assistance from Sherry Su in London. Editors: Will Kennedy, Stephen Cunningham

To contact the reporter on this story: Eduard Gismatullin in London at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at [email protected]

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