Ejiofor Alike with agency reports
As ExxonMobil plans to repair the pipeline feeding the Qua Iboe export terminal, the exports of Qua Iboe grade of crude oil, which is Nigeria’s largest crude stream will remain under force majeure for at least one month.
The cause of the leak was not clear, but the force majeure came just days after militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers, claimed to have bombed Qua Iboe pipeline.
The Avengers had stated that it bombed the company’s 48-inch Que Iboe crude oil export pipeline on July 11.
But 24 hours after the claim by the militants, the company’s spokesperson, Todd Spitler, debunked the claim, saying “there was no attack on our facilities.”
However, the militant group quickly replied through its spokesperson, Mudoch Agbinibo, insiting that: “ExxonMobil can deny and fool the public about their export pipeline blown yesterday.”
“How long can they lie to their investors? Just in a matter of days, the whole world will see the truth. Qua Iboe 48 crude oil export pipeline is down so said the Avengers,” he added.
But at the weekend, ExxonMobil further refuted the claim, describing the pipeline leak as a “system anomaly.”
The company declared force majeure, citing what it called a system anomaly observed during a routine check.
Sources told Reuters this week that the pipeline lost pressure while loading a cargo of crude oil and that the company subsequently discovered a leak on the underwater pipeline.
According to the sources, the repairs would be more extensive than initially thought and would not begin this week, stressing that the force majeure is likely to remain in place for a minimum of one month.
Two of Nigeria’s largest fields are now under force majeure, with Shell-operated Forcados crude oil exports halted since the Avengers attacked its subsea pipeline in February.
While ExxonMobil said at the time it declared force majeure that the terminal was operating, traders said the company had not yet released a revised loading schedule for July crude exports, an ominous sign for those hoping to purchase or sell the oil.
According to Reuters. vessel tracking, the last ship to load crude at the Qua Iboe terminal was the Ottoman Nobility on July 9.
Typically, a vessel would load a million-barrel lot of Qua every three to four days, and exports of 250,000 bpd aboard eight vessels were scheduled for July.
Three other ships scheduled to load Qua were near the terminal, one since July 12.
Though ExxonMobil said the force majeure was unrelated to any militant activity, the scale of the damage has raised questions among traders.
The Avengers had warned that if the company moved forward with repairs “something big…will happen,” threatening to target the company’s workers instead of blowing up its facilities.