Shell tests Nigeria’s Forcados oil pipeline for restart as output stands at 1.9m b/d

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LONDON May 9 – Shell is testing Nigeria’s Trans Forcados crude export pipeline for a potential restart with the Astro Perseus tanker expected to load the first cargo by the weekend, sources told Naija247news on Tuesday.

The pipeline has been mostly shut down since it was bombed by militants in February 2016. After repairs, exports briefly resumed in October until a fresh attack forced another shutdown in early November.

A spokeswoman for Shell declined to comment.

Before the attacks, the Forcados stream accounted for 200,000-240,000 barrels per day (bpd). No loading programme is expected to be issued until the pipeline is fully tested.

The 48-inch pipeline which connects various oil fields in the Niger Delta to the export terminal, has been largely shut for almost a year after several attacks by militants.

Early in February Emmanuel Kachikwu told lawmakers in the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources that repairs to the 48-inch export pipeline were nearing completion.

“In a matter of weeks, the facility could be reopened which will further shoot up oil production to 2.2 million b/d,” Kachikwu said.

Nigerian crude oil and condensate production is currently ranging between 1.9 million and 2 million b/d and could soon reach close to 2.2 million b/d, once Forcados comes back online, sources close to the matter said.

The Nigerian export program for March currently has no loading schedule allocated for Forcados, according to trade sources.

Crude exports at the Forcados terminal, which resumed briefly in October 2016 after being out for eight months, was suspended once again after the pipeline was bombed in early November 2016.

Exports were initially suspended in early February last year after the 48-inch pipeline feeding into the Forcados terminal was bombed by the militant group Niger Delta Avengers.

Forcados, a gasoil-rich sweet crude blend, is one of Nigeria’s top export crudes averaging some 250,000 b/d of output.

The government has stepped up peace talks with Niger Delta leaders and youths to end militancy in the region.

Kachikwu also announced on Tuesday, a 20-point agenda for a lasting solution to the delta crisis, which included the allocation of marginal oil fields to natives of the region as well as contracts for the revamping of state-owned refineries.

Nigerian oil output plummeted to near 30-year lows of around 1.2 million b/d in May from 2.2 million b/d earlier this year as attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta rose at an alarming pace due to resurgent militancy.