ABUJA, Nigeria, March 25 (UPI) -- A decision to shut down the Nembe Creek oil pipeline in Nigeria next month is a reflection of rampant oil theft in the country, a Shell official said.
Shell Nigeria announced it was closing the pipeline temporarily in April. Assistant pipeline manager Jurgen Janzen said the company was working in response to oil theft in Nigeria.
"The shutdown, which illustrates the deepening impact of alleged oil theft on the Nigerian industry, is Shell's response to increasing numbers of illegal connections to the pipeline this year, many of which pollute the local environment," he was quoted by Nigerian newspaper ThisDay as saying.
Shell last year declared force majeure on Bonny Light crude, the Nigerian blend, because of "incessant crude theft and illegal bunkering" on a pipeline the Nembe Creek trunk line in southern Nigerian.
Nigeria is the No. 7 oil producer among the 12-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. OPEC said Nigerian oil production fell last year from its 2.1 million barrel-per-day average for 2011. The Nembe Creek pipeline carries 150,000 bpd.
Janzen said theft was on the rise, with "at least 90 illegal connections still in the (pipeline) system now that we are aware of."