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Oil theft and explosion forces closure of major Nigerian pipeline

Shell Nigeria said on June 20 that an explosion and fire caused by oil theft have forced it to shut down its Trans Niger Pipeline, which has a capacity of 150,000 barrels of crude a day. The statement said the theft of oil caused the conflagration at Bodo West in Ogoniland. The area in southern Nigeria already has suffered decades of oil spills due to pipeline thefts.

Shell’s Nigeria Director Mutiu Sunmonu said it was “another sad reminder of the tragic consequences of crude oil theft.”

On June 24 Shell said a team would conduct an investigation into the cause of the pipeline fire. Shell spokesman Tony Okonedo said the team would include regulators, Ministry of Environment officials, community members, Shell officials and independent observers.

Crude oil theft is a major problem in Nigeria, with estimates that the country loses some $6 billion in revenue per year.

The country’s oil production dropped to 1.96 million barrels per day in May, a six-month low, according to the International Energy Agency.

The agency said theft-related damage to pipelines continued to curb production.

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