Despite the ceasefire by the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the main militant group in the oil-producing region, fresh attacks on the Forcados subsea pipeline and persistent threats by several militant groups on contractors delayed the repairs of the 48-inch pipeline, THISDAY has learnt.
THISDAY gathered from one of the producing companies that utilise the pipeline for crude evacuation that even though the Avengers declared ceasefire, unknown groups continued to cause fresh damages on the pipeline.
The militant groups, it was learnt, also threatened the contractors carrying out the repairs on the damaged pipeline, despite the heavy military presence in the region.
Investigation revealed that the pipeline is currently undergoing test-running amid threats by the militants.
After the February 14 oil spill on Forcados Terminal subsea crude oil export pipeline, which forced Shell to declare force majeure on exports of Forcados crude on February 21, 2016, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu had promised that the repairs would be completed by May 29.
Also, a representative of Shell had corroborated the minister’s claim when he told the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola and the operators of the power sector in their 5th monthly meeting held on May 9 at the Shiroro Hydroelectric Power Plant in Niger State,that the repairs would be completed on May 29, 2016 as scheduled.
Trans-Forcados Pipeline, which is operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), belongs to the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Despite the assurances by the minister and Shell, a fresh threat by the NDA to attack oil workers and contractors involved in the repairs, had frustrated efforts to meet the May 29 initial target.
Chief Executive Officer of Shoreline Group, Mr. Kola Karim was later quoted as saying that the pipeline would resume operation by the middle of September.
“We are hearing Forcados is due to return at the middle of next month (September). It has been a tough situation for us these past couple of months,” Karim said.
THISDAY gathered that Shoreline Natural Resources, which owns 45 per cent interest in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 30, is one of the companies that evacuate crude through the Forcados pipeline to the Forcados Export Terminal.
However, the militant threats and fresh attacks on the pipeline made it impossible to meet the new target of September.
“The main militant group has declared ceasefire but criminal elements cause fresh damages on the pipeline and threaten contractors to abandon repairs at the initial stages. They also made it difficult for contractors to deliver materials used for the repairs at the sites. That is why the repairs were delayed,” said a CEO of one the companies that utilise the pipelines.
The company boss who spoke off the record, however told THISDAY at the weekend that given the assurance by the contractors, the pipeline would resume operation before end of the year.
Forcados pipeline transports over300, 000 barrels of oil equivalent per day to the export terminal for upstream companies operating in the western Niger Delta and Shoreline accounts for over 40,000 bpd.
Other companies affected by the attack on Forcados include: Shell, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, Neconde, First Hydrocarbon Nigeria (FHN) and NPDC.
Some marginal field producers such as Pillar Oil, Midwestern Oil and Gas, Platform Petroleum and Energia also convey their crude oil through the pipeline.