Aiteo Eastern Exploration & Production Company Limited has declared force majeure on the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) after a fire outbreak was discovered on a section of the pipeline on Sunday.
Force majeure is an unexpected event which prevents someone or a company from doing something that is written in a legal agreement.
The NCTL, located in Rivers state, is 100-kilometre long pipeline that transports up to 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) of the Bonny Light crude out of the country through the Bonny Crude Oil Export Terminal operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).
In a statement, Ndiana Mathew, a spokesman for Aiteo, said initial investigations revealed that the fire occurred as a result of an “illegitimate breach”.
The company said the fire had been contained and all operations into the pipeline have been shut based on recommendations.
“We have been informed of a fire outbreak by our surveillance team comprising the JTF, FSS around NCTL RoW near Awoba today, 21 April 2019,” the statement read.
“Our Operations Emergency Response team was immediately activated and following its urgent intervention and containment action, we are constrained to shut in injection as well as other related operations into the NCTL. In accordance with standard procedure, we requested the other injectors to do same.
“The NCTL has, hitherto, enjoyed smooth operations preceding this incident founding suspicion that this fire may have occurred through an illegitimate, third party breach of the functionality of the pipeline, critical national asset.
“In the meantime, the relevant investigations are continuing while further information about the remote and direct causes of the fire will be communicated as soon as these become available. We ask our stakeholders to await further, detailed briefing in due course.”
The NCTL shutdown is the second in two months as operations only resumed on March 7 following the plugging of a leak which necessitated the shutdown of the facility on February 28.
The pipeline has been a target of oil thieves and vandals since it was inaugurated after Aiteo purchased a 45% stake from SPDC in 2015.