By SARAH KENT
Royal Dutch Shell's Nigerian subsidiary has shut a key
pipeline in the Niger Delta following an explosion and fire at
a point that had been targeted by oil thieves, the company said
in a statement Thursday.
The Trans Niger pipeline, which carries 150,000 bpd of oil
through the Niger Delta to the Bonny terminal, was shut on
Wednesday after the event at Bodo West in Ogoniland, the
"This is another sad reminder of the tragic consequences of
crude oil theft," said Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director and
country chair at Shell's Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum
Development. Oil theft is a persistent problem in Nigeria,
Africa's largest oil producer, and frequently disrupts oil
"Unknown persons continued to reconnect illegal bunkering
hoses at Bodo West even as our pipeline team were removing
crude theft points. It was therefore not surprising that the
fire occurred from the continuing illegal bunkering even as a
previous crude oil theft point was being repaired by the team,"
The company said it had already shut the Trans Niger's
28-inch pipeline to remove connections used for crude oil theft
when the incident occurred, causing it to shut the 24-inch
pipeline as well. It said the 24-inch line will reopen once it
is safe to do so, while the 28-inch line will remain remain
shut-in until the fire has been extinguished and investigation
and damage assessment completed.
Community leader Sylvester Kogbara, who chairs the council
of chiefs and elders of Bodo, the community in the Eastern
Niger Delta where the incident took place, told the Wall
Street Journal that the pipeline suffered a spill early
last week, but on Wednesday "it caught fire," wounding several
Shell said so far practically no oil had spilled as a result
of the incident since the fire was burning it off.
"What is visible in the water is from an earlier oil spill
which was also as a result of oil theft," said Mr. Sunmonu.
Dow Jones Newswires