Oil giant Shell said Sunday it had shut down a pipeline in southern Nigeria due to damage from oil thieves, causing a 25,000 barrel-per-day cut in crude production.
Shell's Nigerian arm "has shut down the Imo River Trunkline in its eastern operations after it found several crude theft points on the facility. Production of some 25,000 barrels of oil per day is deferred," a statement said.
The line was originally isolated on October 31 when the first set of leaking points was discovered, it said, adding that unknown persons installed more crude theft connections days later, bringing the total to six.
The Anglo-Dutch company said that there had been 26 spills in the Imo River area of southern Nigeria this year, 25 of which have been due to sabotage, causing the spill of about 3,000 barrels into the environment.
"Ground visits showed that the oil had impacted rivers and other water bodies even as we have managed to deploy containment booms and are now starting to recover spilled crude," Shell vice president Tony Attah said.
Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer, pumping between 2.0 and 2.4 million barrels per day in recent months. Shell has been the biggest operator in the country.
Pipeline damage and associated spills are common in the Niger Delta region as a result of oil theft to feed the lucrative black market.
Activists however say firms such as Shell do not do enough to prevent such spills and clean them up when they occur.
Militants claiming to be fighting for a fairer distribution of oil revenue have also regularly blown up pipelines in the past, though such attacks have greatly decreased since a 2009 amnesty deal.© ANP/AFP