Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) and two other companies have acquired around 1 million barrels of Nigeria’s Forcados crude grade for delivery in late November, in what may be a sign that the Forcados terminal may start exporting oil for the first time since militant attacks forced it shut in February this year, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Shell, operator of the Forcados terminal, as well as Axion Energy Argentina SA and Pampa Energia SA, have bought the crude for delivery to Argentine refineries they operate between November 20 and 25.
The Trans Forcados pipeline was hit by a bomb in February, causing Shell Petroleum Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Shell, to declare force majeure, as it was unable to export crude through the Forcados terminal. The terminal can export 400,000 barrels per day when operating at full capacity, with average capacity at 200,000 bpd. Back then, the authorities said that the pipeline might not be repaired until May. Later, the restart was postponed for June, then again for September.
Shell spokeswoman Sally Donaldson told Bloomberg by phone that Forcados is under force majeure and declined to comment on the company’s purchase of the cargo.
Bloomberg’s ship data has shown that no tankers have loaded cargos at Forcados, but loading data that the agency has obtained has revealed that eight cargoes are planned to load in October and another six in November.
The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) have claimed responsibility for the bombing at Forcados on their website. The NDA militant group has been responsible for most of the attacks on oil infrastructure in Nigeria in recent months.
Last month the NDA agreed to call a ceasefire and sit down to talks with the government. The halting of hostilities by the NDA lasted just about a month before the group said it blew up another pipeline a few days ago. While the NDA was ‘halting hostilities’, other militant groups had continued to attack oil facilities.