After months of repairs, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has restarted the Trans-Forcados crude export pipeline with the completion of the loading of the first tanker â€“ Astro Perseus, at the Forcados terminal, THISDAY has learnt.
The crude oil tanker, it was learnt, has been scheduled to depart to Takoradi in Ghana.
The Trans-Forcados pipeline was first attacked by the Niger Delta Avengers in February 2016, the first attack on a subsea pipeline in the country.
A spill that occurred on February 14, 2016 on the subsea crude oil export pipeline, had forced Shell to declare force majeure on Forcados liftings a week later.
Attempts to repair the 48-inch pipeline were frustrated by further attacks by the militants.
For instance, the pipeline resumed exports in October 2016 after it was repaired but was shut down in November after the militants bombed the subsea facility for the second time.
But an official of one of the companies that feed crude into the Forcados stream told THISDAY on condition of anonymity at the weekend that â€˜skeletalâ€™ loading had resumed at the facility with the loading of the first tanker â€“ Astro Perseus.
According to him, a second crude oil tanker, Densa Orca, had arrived at the Forcados export terminal since May 22, at the instance of Vitol, which will load crude within the first week of June.
â€œAfter Vitol, other oil trading companies such as Oando and Sahara Energy will likely load the next cargoes. Liftings have not resumed fully as the pipeline is still being text-run; it is still a sort of skeletal loadings. That is why Shell has not lifted the force majeure declared after the bombing incident in February 2016,â€ he explained.
Before the militant attacks, the Forcados stream accounted for between 200,000 and 240,000 barrels per day of Nigeriaâ€™s crude exports.
SPDC and other upstream companies operating in the western Niger Delta evacuate crude oil and condensates through the pipeline to the export terminal.
Companies that were hit by the bombing of the subsea pipeline included Shell, Seplat, Shoreline Resources Limited, Neconde, First Hydrocarbon Nigeria (FHN) and NPDC.
The Group Managing Director of Obijackson Group, the parent company of Neconde, Mr.Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi told THISDAY recently that the company was producing between 51,000 barrels per day and 52,000 bpd from Oil Mining Lease (OML) 42 before the militants bombed the Forcados pipeline.
He added that after the attacks, his company experienced zero production for six months before production was ramped up to its current level of 15,000 bpd.
Some marginal field producers such as Pillar Oil, Midwestern Oil and Gas, Platform Petroleum and Energia also convey their crude oil through the pipeline.
However, some of the marginal field producers have another alternative route through the pipelines operated by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) to carry their crude oil to Brass Export Terminal.
Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc is also planning to bypass the Trans-Forcados pipeline with the Amukpe-Escravos pipeline, which is scheduled for completion this year.