By Udeme Akpan
Nigeria’s oil production, Monday, started to rise by additional 225,000 barrels per day, mb/d as Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo), operator of the Bonga field floating production, storage and offloading vessel (FPSO), completed the FPSO vessel maintenance.
The FPSO vessel was shut on May 21, 2020, for rehabilitation, including statutory recertification and critical asset integrity activities, targeted at improving production and storage operations.
However, confirming the completion of rehabilitation, Shell disclosed that SNEPCo, apparently in charge of Bonga’s operations in partnership with Total, Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria (Deep Water) Limited under a production sharing contract with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), completed the work on June 15, 2020.
In a statement obtained by Vanguard, Shell stated: “The Bonga Floating Production, Storage and Offloading vessel was restarted on June 15, 2020, and production is ramping up after the successful completion of the Scheduled Maintenance Activities ahead of schedule.
“The health, welfare and safety of our staff remain our topmost priority and we have in place a business continuity plan for the continued safe operations of our facilities.
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“We also have an offshore medical support and health protocol for managing any suspected case of COVID-19 in addition to pre-offshore mobilisation medical screening in line with country regulations and with guidance from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.”
It added: “Contrary to reports that there was a forced evacuation of staff and abrupt suspension of the scheduled maintenance activities.”
An investigation by Vanguard showed that Bonga remains strategic to SNEPCo and its partners.
In its current Briefing Notes, obtained by Vanguard, Shell stated: “SNEPCo production rose to 164,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from 158,000. Bonga operational availability improved to 94% from 85% in 2018. Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo) pioneered deep-water oil and gas production from the Bonga field in the Gulf of Guinea where depths reach more than 1,000 metres. When Bonga began production in 2005, it increased Nigeria’s oil production capacity by 10%.
“Today, nearly one-third of Nigeria’s deep-water production comes from the Bonga and Erha fields. SNEPCo, a wholly-owned Shell company, has interests in four deep-water blocks; two of which it operates. The company develops and deploys the latest deep-water drilling techniques to reduce drilling times, cut costs and increase production.
“The Bonga Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO), vessel has a total production capacity of 225,000 barrels of oil per day and 150 standard cubic feet of gas export per day. Since production began in 2005, Bonga alone has produced about 880 million barrels of oil.
“In 2019, the FPSO improved its availability from 85% in 2018 to 94% in 2019 meaning more production capacity.
SNEPCo’s production in 2019 rose to 164,000 boe/d from 158,000 and this was largely due to Bonga. SNEPCo contributes around 22% to Shell’s global deepwater oil production and its growth ambitions include expansion of natural gas production. In addition to Bonga, SNEPCo’s exploration activities have led to several significant discoveries of oil and gas over the last two decades, including Bolia, Zabazaba and Doro fields.”
Nevertheless, this does not mean that Nigeria would produce much more than was allowed by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
A Ministry of Petroleum Resources source, who pleaded anonymity, said: “OPEC’s allocation to Nigeria has already been allocated to all producing companies, including Shell. Every producer has expressed commitment to respect such allocation and there is a mechanism in place for proper monitoring.”