Oil Theft May Be To Blame For Pipeline Fires In Nigeria

While the supply of crude pumped through a pipeline at K-Dere, owned by Nigeria National Petroleum, has been threatened by the breakout of a fire on Monday, Shell said that it is "'too early to tell'" if a second fire along the Trans Niger Pipeline will affect exports.

A Shell Nigerian spokesperson, Precious Okolobo, told Bloomberg that the still raging fire could possibly affect exports.

The local media of Nigeria is reporting that the two fires are near two fires that occurred last year, which were believed to be started by saboteurs.

"We don't know the cause for now, but it's close to where we had two pipeline fires last year that was caused by sabotage."

Shell personnel, which have been unable to reach the fire along a section of the Trans Niger Pipeline because of dangerous security issues, stated to Dow Jones that the fire may have been started by "'third-party tampering' as locals tried to steal oil from the pipeline." The Shell representative said such theft is a common event in Nigeria.

An unnamed source working for SPDC who was quoted by The Punch, a Nigerian news source, said that more than 100,000 bbl/d flow through the two affected pipelines. Shell declined to say how much oil pumped through the Trans Niger Pipeline in reports.

Local news reports referred to the Trans Niger Pipeline as a "national asset" that pumps crude from the Port Harcourt area to the Bonny terminal. Shell owns 30% of the pipeline while Nigerian National Petroleum owns 55%. Total owns 10% and EniSpA owns the remaining 5%

Bloomberg reported that Shell personnel noticed the fires from a helicopter on March 30.

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