ChevronTexaco To Reopen Shut In Nigeria Crude

ChevronTexaco's Nigeria unit could re-open up to 140,000 barrels a day of shut in crude capacity in the country's western Delta State, a company spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday.

The Nigerian government has sent 1,000 troops to the region, according to local newspaper The Punch. "The deployment of troops is preparatory for the reopening of the flowstations," the spokesman said. The production has been shut in since March 2003 following ethnic unrest in the area.

A ChevronTexaco spokesman in London confirmed the company is planning to restart production at its Escravos facilities, but couldn't give any definite timing or confirm the production volume that might be restarted.

"We certainly have plans to get back into that area but we need to carry out a full safety and environmental audit of the facilities," the spokesman said.

The company first has to get its staff back to the flowstations and carry out any necessary repairs, which it plans to do "very, very soon." A statement will be issued later Tuesday, the spokesman said.

ChevronTexaco's output of its affected Escravos crude was at 440,000 b/d before ethnic unrest caused the shut in of production in March 2003.

Although a total of 140,000 b/d is shut in, ChevronTexaco's production is currently at 350,000 b/d as the company wasn't producing at full capacity due to Nigeria's Organization Of Petroleum Exporting Countries' output quota.

A spokesman for Royal Dutch/Shell Group (RD, SC) in London, which also has production in the affected Niger Delta, said the company's Nigeria unit still has 29,500 b/d of its Forcados crude output shut in due to vandalism.

"Access to all of our facilities in the northern swamp has been restored," the spokesman said.

He couldn't confirm whether that production might reopen as a result of the improving security situation in the area.

At the peak of the unrest, Shell shut in 160,000 b/d of its total 440,000 b/d Forcados capacity. Shell's total production in Nigeria is around 1.1 million b/d.