There appears to be no relief for Nigeria’s struggling oil and gas industry as the country’s crude production shrank to a three-month low of 1.081 million barrels per day in July, on the back of persisting crude oil theft and a leak at the Forcados terminal in the Niger Delta.
Data from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), obtained by THISDAY indicated that apart from April, which hitherto had the lowest output for 2023, the production for last month would emerge as the second-lowest for this year so far.
With the low volume of oil produced in July, it would mean that Nigeria fell short by as much as 661,000 barrels per day during the period under review, given that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) allocated the country a quota of 1.742 million bpd during the period.
As the industry was contending with crude oil theft, the suspension of production by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) at Nigeria’s Forcados crude oil terminal in mid-July, due to a leak at the export terminal, dashed the hope of the country’s expected gradual production recovery.
Shell had temporarily stopped loading at the Forcados crude oil facility due to the suspected leak at the export terminal. Nigeria has been unable to meet its OPEC target since the second half of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic-induced cuts were announced.
The data released by the industry regulator showed a massive fall in production at the Forcados facility from 7.085 million barrels in June to 2.82 million barrels in the month under review.
“We can confirm that injections into the Forcados Oil Terminal were curtailed on Wednesday, July 12, 2023, following the report of some sheen in the mooring vicinity,” the company said last month when the leak was detected.
According to the report, workers observed a sheen near the single-buoy mooring facility, prompting the suspension of activities to conduct investigations.
The Forcados crude oil terminal had the highest crude oil output in June 2023 among the seven major crude terminals in the country, according to a previous NUPRC report.
Since the beginning of the year, crude oil production at the Forcados terminal has varied between five million and seven million barrels per day, with modest declines recorded in March and April 2023.
In May this year, the terminal located in Delta State boosted crude oil and condensate output to 7.01 million barrels per day, up from 5.78 million bpd in April 2023.
But the latest NUPRC figures showed that when condensates, which are excluded from OPEC’s output computations, are calculated, Nigeria’s crude oil production was 1.29mpd in July 2023.
Aside from the production decrease at the Forcados terminal, one other major terminal which reduced its production volume was the Bonny terminal, which recorded a production of 2.2 million barrels in July as against 2.7 million barrels in June.
Apart from the Forcados Leak, oil theft has also continued in the Niger Delta, with information from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) showing that 240 incidents of crude oil theft were recorded just between July 15 and July 21, 2023, alone.
In the same vein, there were 139 crude oil theft incidents between July 22 and July 28, the national oil company stated.
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja