Nigeria’s largest Exxon-run export terminal is reportedly under siege, as staff are blocked from access and conflicting reports emerge about whether the facility remains operational.
While Reuters has quoted Exxon as saying that the Qua Iboe terminal, which handles the largest crude stream in the country at 300,000 barrels per day, is still operating, earlier reports yesterday from Nigerian media had said a militant attack had forced the terminal’s shut down.
Early on Friday, Reuters cited ExxonMobil as saying that operations continued, though “intruders blocked staff from gaining access”.
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"Some unknown persons obstructed access to the bridge leading to (the terminal), thereby preventing our personnel and the public from conducting their legitimate businesses," an Exxon spokesman told Reuters.
The situation on the ground remains unclear, and there is speculation that only essential staff remain in the facility.
On Thursday, Nigerian media were reporting that staff had been evacuated and the facility had been closed down. The speculation now is that the facility is not officially closed down, but the situation remains dynamic.
On 12 May, Exxon declared force majeure on Qua Iboe crude after an accident the company said was not related to militant attacks. The company said a subsea pipeline linking to Qua Iboe was damaged by a drilling rig.
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May should have seen some 337,000 barrels per day of Qua Iboe exported this month, according to Reuters.
Estimates are that the resurgence of Niger Delta militancy has taken 500,000 bpd offline, according to Reuters, while Bloomberg put that at 600,000 bpd.
Last week, Shell also declared force majeure on its exports of Bonny Light crude, evacuating staff from its Eja OML 79 production facility. Chevron has also evacuated staff as multiple attacks on its facilities in the Niger Delta.
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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