A fire at Nigeria’s Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL), which triggered a force majeure declaration and an 8% fall in the country’s daily production was the result of sabotage, Aiteo Oil Exploration and Production said on April 24.
The six people responsible for the sabotage, which led on April 21 to the outbreak of fire and the immediate calling of force majeure, all died in the blaze, according to Aiteo.
The 150,000 bpd link, which carries Bonny Light crude from the eastern Niger Delta to the Bonny export terminal, has now been re-opened, the company added, without revealing whether oil flow has returned to normal rates.
Aiteo was required to “shut-in injection as well as other related operations into the NCTL,” the company said immediately following the fire. “In accordance with standard procedure, we requested the other injectors to do the same.”
This was the second shutdown in two months for a key export pipeline that is regularly targeted by thieves attempting to siphon off crude.
On February 28, a leak from a point drilled by suspected oil thieves forced the closure of the trunk line. Two days later, an explosion at the Nembe Creek Well 7 in Bayelsa State caused a fire, although this was extinguished on the same day and Aiteo says that the pipeline was not damaged because it was already closed.
Royal Dutch Shell also declared force majeure on Bonny Light exports in May 2018, this time due to a leak on the Nembe Creek pipeline.
Nigeria’s oil flows have been stabilising in recent months, with production levels hovering around 1.723-1.733 million bpd, according to OPEC figures.
An increase in scheduled loadings of the Forcados grade in June mean that even with lost shipments of Bonny Light from the most recent outage, Nigeria’s overall exports for the month should increase, from 127,000 bpd, to 230,000 bpd in May.