UPDATE: Shell shuts Bonga deepwater facility; identifies source of oil leak

By Dorothy Davis 

Damaged export line from the Shell Bonga floating production, storage and offtake (FPSO) vessel Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) a unit of Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) (NYSE:RDS-B), has shut down its 200,000 barrel-per-day capacity Bonga deepwater facility following an oil leak approximately 120 kilometres off the Nigeria coast.

Following investigation by a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), SNEPCo has identified an export line linking Bonga’s floating production, storage and off-loading (FPSO) vessel as the source of the leak. It is believed the incident occurred during a routine operation to transfer crude oil to a waiting tanker Tuesday, December 20. 
The company has since halted the flow of oil from all export lines linking the FPSO to the tanker and estimates the amount of leaked oil at less than 40,000 barrels. 

In a statement on its website Shell also outlined current assessments show as much as 50% of the leaked oil has already dissipated due to natural dispersion and evaporation.

Mutiu Sunmonu, Shell’s country chair in Nigeria offered, "Since Tuesday, when we became aware of this regrettable leak at our Bonga offshore facility, substantial progress has been made in mitigating the consequences. The sheen has thinned considerably due to a combination of natural factors and dispersant application, and in places is breaking up, all of which should aid further dissipation.”

“Another significant development is that this afternoon we identified the source of the leak as a failure in a flexible export line. Let me express my heartfelt thanks to industry colleagues and government agencies for their ongoing support to mitigate the impact of the leak." 

Shell has mobilized additional vessels, equipment and experts to assist in it leak response efforts and stated it has a sizable mitigation operation underway to protect sensitive areas.

There is currently no timeframe for the restart of production at the Bonga facility.

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