In the midst of a militant resurgence in the Niger Delta and a two-week ultimatum for oil companies to shut down operations, Exxon Mobil has reportedly declared force majeure on Qua Iboe crude after an accident the company said was not related to militant attacks.
On Thursday, Exxon said a subsea pipeline linking to Qua Iboe was damaged by a drilling rig. Then, early on Friday, unnamed traders cited by both Bloomberg and Reuters claimed that Exxon had declared force majeure on Qua Iboe crude deliveries.
Qua Iboe is Nigeria's largest crude stream. May should have seen some 337,000 barrels per day of Qua Iboe exported this month, according to Reuters.
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Exxon has not independently confirmed these reports.
This latest incident adds to the growing amount of crude already offline in Nigeria due to the revival of Niger Delta militancy targeting the oil sector.
So far, according to Bloomberg, attacks have cut output by 600,000-1.4 million barrels per day.
On Wednesday, Royal Dutch Shell declared force majeure on its exports of Bonny Light crude. Shell has been forced to evacuate staff from its Eja OML 79 production facility.
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On Monday, Nigerian officials said that Chevron had begun to evacuate staff from its facilities in the Niger Delta follow attacks on its assets. Several Chevron facilities, such as a platform and oil flow station, were attacked by militants last week.
On Thursday, militants vowed to attack Chevron again as the company attempts to repair damage.
Also on Thursday, the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), the group behind the string of attacks, issued a threat to all oil companies in the region to shut down and leave or face stepped up attacks.
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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