Shell restarts Utorogu gas plant in western Niger Delta

Uchenna Izundu
OGJ International Editor

LONDON, Sept. 1 -- Shell Petroleum Development Co. has restarted its 300-MMscfd capacity gas plant in Utorogu in western Niger Delta after the vandalized Escravos-Lagos Pipeline (ELP) was repaired by the Nigerian Gas Co.

The explosions on ELP happened in early August. ELP transports gas from the western delta to Lagos for electric power generation and industrial use. It also disrupted power supplies at the Egbin power station in Lagos and others, meaning that 1,000 Mw was lost on the national grid.

According to local reports, militant group Urhobo Revolutionary Army admitted responsibility for the sabotage in protest against the lack of development in their communities.

The incident has threatened to topple the fragile amnesty brokered between the Nigerian government and militant groups, including the prolific Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND). This was meant to stop sabotages on oil and gas facilities and enhance oil production. But the initiative is controversial within MEND with several high-profile figures agreeing to it and other members determined to continue with their campaign after the 60 days expires on Oct. 4.

An SPDC spokesman told OGJ that the plant would be slowly ramped up to full capacity. He said, “Utorogu was shut temporarily as a precautionary measure following damage to the ELP, and was restarted on Aug. 19 when repairs were completed.”

The plant is operated by SPDC on behalf of joint venture in which Shell owns 30%, Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. 55%, Total SA 10%, and Eni SPA 5%.

Shell is yet to complete repairs at its Soku facility in Rivers State, which was closed last year following attacks and bunkering of condensate (OGJ Online, Dec. 12, 2008). It supplies about 40% of the feed gas for the Nigeria LNG plant on Bonny Island.

Soku was briefly restarted for 4 days in April, but was shut again after condensate theft occurred again.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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