Shell shuts down Soku gas plant over leakage

In a press statement to The Guardian recently and signed by the company’s Corporate Media Relations Manager, Tony Okonedo, the company decided to take the action as a safety measure after a leak was reported from the pipeline that transfers gas to NLNG plant on Tuesday, December 15th.

According to Okonedo, the action will ensure the line is de-pressurised to enable a project team to investigate the cause of the leak and carry out repairs.

He said that the line is located in a remote area, and access control measures have been put in place.

He, however, hinted that NLNG and all relevant government agencies have been informed of the leak.

Soku gas plant had resumed operations on two months ago, after the repair of a pipeline damaged by condensate thieves, and completion of a subsequent spiking project.

The line that is currently affected is different from the one that was repaired, according to the statement.

The NLNG said that it expects supplies from Shell’s operated Soku feed gas plant to rise from current levels of around 500 million standard cubic feet a day to a stable 650 MMscfpd by next year.

At full production Soku, located in the Niger Delta, can supply about 1.1 billion cubic feet per day to NLNG, or about 40 per cent of the export terminal’s total feed gas.

But Soku is still only running at about half its capacity after reopening in October following lengthy repairs to pipelines damaged by gas thieves last year.

“When Soku went off we went to below 50 per cent of our overall production capacity, but now with Soku 50 per cent back that’s taken our overall production capacity up to about 60 per cent,” Commercial Manager at NLNG, Patrick Olinma said.

“Of course if Soku goes up our overall production capacity will also go up… What we think is that the plant (Soku) will stabilise at around 650 million cubic feet a day at the end of the year.”

The Federal Government had said early this year that it had lost about N105 billion since November 2008 due to the shut down of the gas plant.

The plant used to provide about 40 per cent of the gas need of the NLNG in Bonny, Rivers State.

The gas plant was commissioned by the SPDC in 1999 to produce 577 million standard cubic feet of gas per day.

Prior to the development, NLNG was said to be losing 40 per cent of its natural gas supply, while Shell estimated that the country was losing an average of $180 million per month due to the shut down.

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