By Samuel Oyadongha with agency reports
YENAGOAâ€” ANGLO Dutch oil group, Shell, said, yesterday, it had shut-in some production in the Niger Delta after a key supply pipeline was sabotaged hours after militants announced a ceasefire.
Oil prices rose, with New Yorkâ€™s main futures contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, gaining 88 cents to 73.77 dollars a barrel towards evening
Londonâ€™s Brent North Sea crude for March rose 86 cents to 72.32 dollars per barrel. â€œWe have shut in some output as a result of the vandalization of the Trans Ramos pipeline in our western operations at the weekend,â€ a Shell spokesman was quoted as saying. He declined to say if the company believed it was a militant-related attack.
Another Shell spokesperson said that a leak had been located on the pipeline on Saturday. She said: â€œThe leak was stopped and an investigation has confirmed the leak was due to a sabotage. Three flow stations were shut down to allow for the investigations. Repairs will commence as soon as possible.â€
Shell refused to disclose the volume of production loss suffered.
MEND denies involvement
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has, however, denied any involvement in the Saturday attack on Shell Petroleum Development Company Trans Ramos pipeline in the Bayelsa West senatorial district.
The SPDC JV operated Trans-Ramos pipeline which pumps about 106,000 barrels of crude oil per day had been attacked severally since 2005 forcing the company to shut in output owing to security concerns at the height of youth militancy in the region.
The pipeline connects the Tunu, Opukusu and Ogbotubo flow stations, which feeds into the Forcados export terminal.
MEND spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, while replying to Vanguardâ€™s inquiry, said the group was not directly involved in the Saturday attack, which forced the oil giant to shut down flow stations connecting the delivery line. His words, â€œMEND was not directly involved in the attack.â€
However, the giant had contained the crude oil spill from its sabotaged Trans Ramos pipeline in Ekeremor local government area of Bayelsa State from spreading.
Confirming the spill, SPDC spokesman, Precious Okolobo, said the flow stations which produced into the lines have been shut in order to contain the crude oil from further spreading.
He said: â€œA leak was observed, weekend, on the Trans Ramos pipeline in our western operations. An investigation team comprising regulators, communities, security agencies and SPDC personnel discovered that the spill was caused by sabotage.
â€œSome flow stations which produce into the line have been shut down, as a result of which the leak has stopped. We are continuing to recover spilled oil, and deploying additional booms to contain the spread of the crude. Repair work will commence as soon as possible.â€
The weekend attack came just hours after MEND called off a unilateral ceasefire it declared on October 25.
MEND said it would resume â€œall-outâ€ violent attacks on the nationâ€™s oil industry claiming it had received no effective peace dividend from the truce.
The group said it had ordered the ceasefire in the hope of securing with the government, â€œtrue dialogue founded on a sincere desire to bring justice to the people of the Niger Delta, and true peace to Nigeriaâ€.
But three months on, MEND said: â€œit is sufficiently clear that the government of Nigeria has no intentions of consideringâ€ its demands.
Armed groups claiming to seek a fairer share of oil revenue for locals have since 2006 staged attacks on oil installations in the oil-producing Niger Delta, playing havoc with crude output and international oil prices.
At the peak of the attacks the violence slashed Nigeriaâ€™s crude production by about one million barrels a day, which saw Angola overtake it as Africaâ€™s top oil producer.
Shell, one of top oil operators in Nigeria has seen much of its almost one million barrels per day output slashed because of the unrest.