By Godwin Okafor with Agency Reports
Royal Dutch Shell has declared force majeure on Bonny Light crude oil exports in Nigeria, meaning be temporarily exempt from contractual obligations.
The Anglo-Dutch company’s local subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, made the declaration effective from midday local time on Thursday, the group confirmed in a statement on Friday.
According to Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd, as quoted by Reuters, the force majeure was declared after Aiteo, the operator of the Nembe Creek Trunk Line—one of two pipelines that export the Bonny Light grade—shut down the line.
On June 30, a Shell spokesman told Platts that the company had lifted a force majeure on Bonny Light exports on June 28. That force majeure was declared on June 8 after the other export pipeline, Trans Niger Pipeline, was shut down following a sabotage attack by oil thieves. The grade was exported, but cargoes were delayed by around 10 days.
Exports of Bonny Light in June were planned at 203,000 bpd. The July plans, as of mid-June, were for 164,000 bpd of Bonny Light.
According to data compiled by Reuters, as of June 22, Bonny Light loadings for August were set at 226,000 bpd. At that time, the grade was under the previous force majeure declared by Shell.
As of June 22, Nigeria’s crude oil exports were set to exceed 2 million bpd in August, the highest loadings level planned in 17 months. The August plans compare to 1.84 million bpd initially set for July, but loading delays on the Bonga, Bonny Light, and Qua Iboe grades pushed some cargoes from July into August, according to Reuters data.
Over the past two months, Nigeria has been steadily recovering production, to the point that OPEC is now considering putting a limit on the crude output of the African country, which is currently exempt from the cuts together with fellow African OPEC member Libya. Nigeria’s oil production rose by 96,700 bpd to 1.733 million bpd in June, and its Oil Minister Emmanuel Kachikwu said earlier this week that the country was ready to support OPEC’s cuts and limit its own crude oil output when it reaches a stable 1.8 million bpd.
The resumption of Bonny Light exports would push Nigeria’s output to more than 2 million b/d, coming on the back of the resumption of deliveries from the Forcados oil terminal in late May after being out for several months.
Oil theft in Nigeria has remained a major headache for both Nigeria and the producers in the area, even as the government has been able to check the activities of militants in the main producing Niger Delta region through peace talks.
Nigerian oil output plummeted to near 30-year lows of around 1.2 million b/d in May 2016 from 2.2 million b/d earlier that year as attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta rose at an alarming pace due to resurgent militancy.