YENEGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell said on Wednesday it had shut one of its Nigerian flowstations in the onshore Niger Delta after oil pipeline leaks.
Local youths claimed responsibility for attacking the same pipelines because they say Shell stopped paying them for surveillance work. Shell said the cause of the leaks had not been confirmed.
The pipelines both run through Bayelsa, the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan. Crude was still gushing out into one of the thousands of creeks which snake through the oil-rich wetlands region, a Reuters witness said.
“Incidents believed to involve several oil spills have been reported … Adibawa flowstation has been closed in, while repair teams are being mobilised to Yenegoa preparatory to deployment to site,” a Shell spokesperson said.
It was not clear how much production would be lost from the shut down.
Local leaders said youths were employed by Shell to watch and protect the pipelines but they became unhappy after the agreement was terminated.
“We got information that contract was terminated … and the boys became angry and started the vandalization,” said Igbudu Goodness, a Okordia community leader.
Protesting youths shut down a Shell oil manifold last month but production has since restarted. These incidents on their own do not point to a return to the previous levels of unrest in the Niger Delta, security analysts said.
Oil sabotage attacks by militant gangs were a regular occurrence until an amnesty in 2009 halted major strikes. At their height the attacks cut out a third of the OPEC member’s crude oil output, costing the government billions of dollars in lost revenue.