Total plugs gas leak in Niger Delta, no further well needed

Channels Television  
Updated May 20, 2012

French oil major Total has plugged a gas leak in southern Nigeria’s Niger Delta region and no longer needs to drill an additional relief well to curb its flow, a spokesman said on Friday.

The leak occurred in March on a block that also contains crude oil in Rivers state, one of the three main states that make up the Niger Delta, a vast wetlands region in the southeast where Africa’s biggest energy industry is based.

Block OML 58 also produced around 76,000 barrels per day of oil in 2004 and this increased in 2008, the company says. No oil was spilling from the leak.

“This operation has done the job. As a result the relief well is no longer necessary. The gas leak has been plugged,” spokesman Fred Ohwahwa said by telephone.

The cement seal for the well was in the process of being finalised, but the leak had stopped, he said.

Nigeria remains a small player in the gas business.

Its oil producing region has one of the world’s worst records on oil and gas spills and pollution. Accidents and pipeline ruptures are commonplace.

Shell said it had started repair work on the Nembe Creek Trunkline, a major pipeline whose closure this month caused the company to declare force majeure on 60,000 barrels per day of Bonny Light earlier this month.

“The team will tackle eight other illegal bunkering points as it continues to re-assert the integrity of the facility,” a statement late on Wednesday said.

“When you add the cost of repairs to the facility downtime and loss of revenue, it becomes clear how crude theft has denied Nigeria of badly needed revenue,” Tony Attah, Vice President, Health, Safety and Environment, Shell Sub-Saharan Africa, added.

The company blamed oil thieves on the pipeline, which weaves through the delta’s creeks largely unpoliced and has been a frequent target for thieves. The company says its Nigeria joint venture is losing 43,000 bpd of crude a day to oil theft.