Lagos - Shell said on Thursday it had repaired and reopened
a key pipeline in southern Nigeria shut down last week owing to leaks, but that
contractual obligations remained suspended.
"We reopened the Trans Niger Pipeline [TNP] yesterday [Wednesday]
after carrying out necessary repairs of the facility," Precious Okolobo,
the spokesperson for the SPDC, the Nigerian subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch oil
group, said. .
He said Shell had restored a daily oil production of 150 000
barrels per day.
But a force majeure declared in respect of Bonny Light
exports following the closure would remain in force, he said.
Force majeure is a legal term releasing a company from contractual
obligations due to circumstances beyond its control. Bonny Light is one of the
main grades of crude produced in Nigeria.
The TNP has been repeated attacked by vandals and oil
thieves with Shell claiming the pipeline has been closed down at least five
times since early July.
Oil theft is a major problem in Nigeria, estimated to cost the
country at least $6bn per year in lost revenue.
Shell has consistently blamed its losses on thieves
vandalising its pipelines.
However, environmental activists argue that Shell does not
do enough to prevent such incidents and effectively clean up the damage when
they do occur.
Nigeria's oil-producing region is badly polluted from
decades of oil spills, and Shell is the biggest producer in the west African
country, where it has been operating for over 50 years.
Nigeria produces some two million barrels a day of oil and
is Africa's largest exporter.