Disaster has been averted off the coast of Nigeria where Royal Dutch Shell contained a near 1.7 million gallon oil spill that occured while transferring oil to one of its takers around 75 miles from the coast. While investigating the spill, Shell also found another spill caused by an unidentified third party, which the company said it will clean up.
Shell brought journalists out to the Bonga field by helicopter where there was no oil sheen. The field is controlled from a ship rather than an oilrig.
The 1.7 million gallon leak at Shell's Bonga offshore facility, which came to light on December 20, was caused by a break in a flexible export line linking the Bonga Floating Production Storage and Offtake Vessel to one of Shell's tankers. The resulting sheen covered 350 square miles and was cleaned up by using chemical dispersants to fragment the oil. The sheen was stopped just over 10 miles from shore.
The secondary leak was found near a Delta state river. Shell said that the samples taken showed the oil came from another source, but the company said it would clean it up regardless. However, Nigerian advocacy group working to defend the ecosystem Environmental Rights Action, placed blame on Shell for the spill.
The Bonga field produces around 200,000 barrels of oil a day, representing about 10% of Nigeria’s oil output. The field is still closed, without any sign of when production will resume for the moment.
While environmental parties claim Shell is responsible for releasing up to 550 million gallons of oil into the Delta over the course of its 50 years of Nigerian operations, the company says leaks have been caused by oil thieves or militant attacks.
Shell Suspends Gulf Operations
In other oil news, Shell has stopped operations at a deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico, having leaked almost 320 barrels of fluid used for drilling. The spill took place in over 7,000 feet of water near New Orleans. Shell has contained the leak and has put the well out of action to carry out repairs.
Shell’s plan to remove underwater pipeline connecting its rig to the blowout preventer has been given the green light from federal regulators. Though the Deepwater Horizon leak of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico did not involve Shell, the company’s Deepwater Nautilus rig is identical in design terms.
Shell Halts Production in Syria
Shell will stop its activities in Syria to respect EU sanctions on the country’s oil and financial sectors. The EU sanctions on Syria Trading Oil, Al Furat Petroleum, and General Petroleum Corporation, are a bid to reign in President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Shell, India’s Oil & Natural Gas, and China National Petroleum all work in partnership with Al Furat Petroleum. The company produces around 100,000 barrels of oil a day.
Key Statistics – Crude Oil in Nigeria (source: MarketLine)
- Nigerian crude oil production generated almost $65 billion in 2010, with 2% annual growth from 2006 to 2010.
- Industry consumption fell to just over 800 million barrels in 2010, recording a yearly decline of over 2.5%.
- Industry growth is expected to slow over the coming years to reach less than $64 billion in 2015.