Royal Dutch Shell is shutting down its huge 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) Bonga oilfield off the Nigerian coast after a leak occurred while loading a tanker on Tuesday, the firm said in a statement.
The Anglo-Dutch oil major said less than 40,000 barrels of oil had leaked into the ocean. It is believed that the leakage would affect fishermen in that region, as fishes in affected area would either die of relocate.
A Shell spokesman said the flow of oil had been halted on all three of the platform’s export lines where it was believed that the leak occurred.
The leak occurred while a tanker was loading oil from Shell’s Bonga facility, about 120 kilometres off the coast of the West African nation, according to the statement.
Shell’s pipelines in Nigeria’s onshore Niger Delta have spilled several times, which the company blamed on sabotage attacks and oil theft.
Bonga accounts for around 10 per cent of monthly oil flows from OPEC member, Nigeria, the continent’s largest exporter of crude oil, according to Reuters data.
“We are sorry this leak has happened. As soon as we became aware of it, we stopped the flow of oil and mobilised our own resources, as well as industry expertise, to ensure its effects are minimised,” Shell Nigeria Country Chair, Mutiu Sunmonu, told Reuters.
“It is important to stress that this was not a well control incident of any sort, and to make clear that no one has been injured. Our focus now is on a speedy and effective clean-up,” he added.
An investigation will be launched into the reasons for the leak, he said, without giving a timeframe for the restart of production.
The company had not declared force majeure, a legal clause allowing a company to miss deliveries due to circumstances outside its control, he added.