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UpstreamOnline: Shell lays plans for EA return (Nigeria)

By Upstream staff

Shell hopes to have its EA oilfield, off Nigeria, back on stream ahead of elections scheduled for April next year, the head of the supermajor’s Nigerian offshore unit said today.

Militants attacked the 115,000 barrels per day EA platform in January, forcing its closure for repairs for several weeks, and it was shut in again on 18 february as a precaution during a wave of attacks on the oil industry.

Shell is currently losing 675,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in Nigeria following the attacks by militants demanding greater local over oil wealth in the impoverished Niger Delta, home of Nigeria’s oil industry.

“We have not drawn any line under EA. We are in active discussions with the Bayelsa state government and with the communities. The signals are positive,” said Chima Ibeneche, managing director of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (Snepco).

“We will resume production when it is safe to do so. We are making progress but we are not there yet. We think it’s possible before the election and if it’s possible we will do it,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference.

Some analysts have speculated that Shell has given up on the idea of reopening EA and other closed fields before the elections because of the high risk of an increase in violence in the build-up to the polls.

Concerns over violence in the Niger Delta and disruptions to Nigerian supplies of crude, which have been down by a quarter since February, have contributed to several spikes in the oil price on world markets.

Oil companies operating in Nigeria have been increasingly looking towards deep-water fields which are deemed easier to secure than onshore or shallow water wells.

Shell’s deep-water Bonga field, which came on stream last November, is now pumping more than 225,000 bpd, Ibeneche said.

“We cannot go much above that for now,” he said, adding that Snepco’s main focus was to develop a new hub within the Bonga field.

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