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Shell resumes production after Nigeria pipeline repair

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Aerial view of the Shell Awobo flow station in the Niger Delta in on March 22, 2013. Anglo-Dutch oil group Shell said Friday it has resumed production after repairing a sabotaged supply pipeline in southern Nigeria's restive oil-rich Niger delta. (AFP/File)

Anglo-Dutch oil group Shell said Friday it has resumed production after repairing a sabotaged supply pipeline in southern Nigeria's restive oil-rich Niger delta.

The company shut down the Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP) on June 19 following an explosion and fire in an area where oil theft has occurred, the latest such incident in Africa's largest producer.

The incident resulted in a cut of 150,000 barrels of oil per day.

"SPDC has repaired the valve point and removed six other crude oil theft connections in its continuing efforts to maintain the integrity of the line," it said of the incident in Bodo west in Ogoniland.

SPDC, the Nigerian subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, said the pipeline which was shut down in a precautionary response to the fire "has been reopened for production."

SPDC managing director Mutiu Sunmonu said the company responded promptly to fix the problem.

"At the earliest opportunity, we quickly mobilised teams to respond to a crude theft spill on the 28-inch TNP on June 10 and the explosion and fire on June 19," he said.

"We conducted an assessment of the risks and decided, with the support of the JTF (military joint task force) to enforce a restriction of access to the site for safety reasons.

"Our response and the actions we took at Bodo west were in the best interest of lives and the environment," he added.

Shell has blamed repeated oil thefts and sabotage of key pipelines as major cause of spills and pollution in the oil-producing region.

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

Nigeria is Africa's largest producer, accounting for more than two million barrels per day, but output dropped to 1.96 million bpd in May, a six-month low, according to the International Energy Agency.

A 2009 amnesty deal led to a sharp decline in unrest in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, but criminal activity has since flourished.

While Shell blames most of the spills on sabotage, activists argue that the company does not do enough to prevent such incidents and effectively clean up the damage when they do occur.

A landmark report from the UN's environmental agency in August 2011 said decades of oil pollution in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta may require the world's biggest clean-up.

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