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ROYAL DUTCH SHELLA : Shell Victim To Crude Thefts In Nigeria Niger Delta

05/14/2012 | 05:06am US/Eastern

IBADAN, Nigeria -- Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. loses at least 43,000 barrels of oil a day to crude theft and illegal bunkering in Nigeria's Niger Delta, a company's spokesman said Monday.

Last year, sabotage and crude oil theft also caused 11,806 barrels to be spilled from SPDC facilities in 118 incidents--equating to an average of one spill every three days, accounting for 77% of the total spilled volume during the period, Precious Okolobo, a SPDC spokesman said in a statement.

"Since, we calculate crude theft quantities based on volumes produced from flowstations and what is received at terminals it is true that additional oil is stolen between wellheads and flowstations," said Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director of SPDC, which is a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA).

Most thefts have been on SPDC joint venture's two major pipelines in the Eastern Niger Delta--the Nembe Creek Trunkline, known as NCTL, and Trans Niger Pipeline or TNP. The NCTL was replaced in 2010 at a cost of $1.1 billion, the statement said but the new line is still a favorite target of crude thieves.

It was shut down for one month in December last year following a spill caused by two failed bunkering connections. The thieves took advantage of that month-long pipeline depressurization to install even more bunkering points.

Since the restart of production in January 2012, there have been multiple trips caused by pressure drops resulting from illegal off-take. Eventually, the NCTL was shut down May 2 to allow for the removal of more than 50 illegal bunkering points, the statement said.

The latest illegal bunkering on the TNP happened May 5, resulting in fires, the statement said. The line was repaired and reopened the following day.

Shell owns 30% of SPDC and holds operatorship, while Nigeria's National Petroleum Corp. owns 55%, Total SA (TOT) has 10% and Nigerian Agip Oil Co. Ltd. has 5%.

Nigeria, a major oil producer earns over 90% of its foreign exchange and 80% of government revenues from oil exports but militant activities between 2006 and 2009 in the Niger Delta disrupted production and exports until the government granted an amnesty to the militants. But piracy, attacks on oil installations and crude theft are on the rise again threatening production.

Nigeria currently produces around 2.3 million barrels of oil a day but its President Goodluck Jonathan said the country plans to raise output to 4 million barrels a day within a decade.

-By Obafemi Oredein, contributing to Dow Jones Newswires; +44-20-7842-9473; LondonGlobalDesk@dowjones.com

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