Nigeria’s oil exports threatened as fire hits 250,000bpd pipeline

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The nation’s crude oil exports have suffered a fresh setback following a fire outbreak on the Trans Forcados Pipeline, one of the nation’s key export routes.

One of our correspondents learnt that the fire occurred late Sunday evening on a section of the pipeline that was undergoing repairs.

It was also gathered that the fire incident sparked tension in Yeye Community in Burutu Local Government Area of Delta State.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation said in December that the TFP accounted for daily production throughput of over 250,000 barrels of crude oil.

The pipeline is the major trunk line within the Forcados Oil Pipeline System, into which multiple branches from onshore fields are fed. The Forcados Oil Pipeline System is the second largest network in the Niger Delta and transports oil, water and associated gas from fields in the western delta to the Forcados oil terminal, which has an oil export capacity of 400,000 barrels per day.

The Chairman, Yeye Community, Pastor Philip Fianka, and the National President of Ijaw People Development Initiative, Mr Austin Ozobo, told one of our correspondents that the inferno was still raging on Monday.

Ozobo, who said the fire broke out around 11:45 pm on Sunday, lamented that the incident had put the residents of the community in danger.

Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited is the operator of the TFP while Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited operates the Forcados export terminal.

When contacted, the General Manager, Community Relations of Heritage Energy Operational Services, Mr Sylvester Okoh, said the fire incident occurred at a crude oil spill site along the pipeline where repair works were ongoing.

Okoh said the fire destroyed some equipment at the scene, adding that a houseboat and gunboats were safely relocated from the scene of the incident.

He said, “The fire outbreak started because of some pressure but current efforts are being made to put it off (which is the most important thing at the moment.) We are trying to curtail the fire first before we can talk of repairs.

“It’s a very critical asset because that is what takes all the crude from the fields to the Forcados terminal for export. It’s not a line used only by Heritage but also by other companies.

“We have quite a number of them – Neconde, Seplat and host of them; it’s not just Heritage. It’s a very critical asset, and that’s why everything is being done to bring it up as quickly as possible.”

According to Okoh, in line with the safety standard, no community is located around the scene of the incident and everything is being done to put off the inferno.

A spokesman for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, Mr Bamidele Odugbesan, said the oil major was aware of the shutdown of the pipeline.

“Any impact on the export programme will be communicated in due course,” he told one of our correspondents.

The NNPC, while clarifying the award of oil infrastructure surveillance contract to Ocean Marine Solutions for the protection of the 87-kilometre TFP, said in December that over $800m was lost to breaches in the pipeline last year.

“In 2018, we lost over 60 days of production due to incessant breaches in the TFP, despite having a security contract in place. In terms of production numbers, this translates to over 11 million barrels of crude oil, which on the face value equates to over $800m in lost revenue to all the stakeholders in the matrix, which includes the NNPC, its JV partners and the Nigerian federation,” the corporation said.

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