UPDATE 1-Shell Nigeria's Bonga, EA fields resume production

Thu Jan 5, 2012 11:12am EST

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* Bonga oil spill was Nigeria's biggest in 13 years

* Facility was about 10 pct of national output

ABUJA Jan 5 (Reuters) - Production has resumed from Nigeria's offshore Bonga oilfield, Royal Dutch Shell said on Thursday, after the facility was shut down by a loading accident that caused the country's biggest oil spill in 13 years.

Output resumed on Jan. 1, and the clean-up of the oil spill that occurred on Dec. 20 has been completed at the 200,000 barrel per day (bpd) facility, which supplies around 10 percent of Nigeria's total output, the company said in a statement.

It also said its offshore 115,000 barrel per day (bpd) EA oil field restarted production on Dec. 27, after it was shut down for maintenance work.

"Clean-up of the 20 December leak from the Bonga offshore oil field has now been completed successfully. Production resumed at Bonga on January 1 2012, following reinforcement of asset integrity and safety programmes," Shell said.

Nigerian villagers say oil from the spill at Bonga, 120 km offshore, had washed up on the coast, blackening stretches of it and killing fish, but Shell has denied that the oil could be from the Bonga facility.

"Satellite and aerial imagery has confirmed that the Bonga oil leak could not have reached coastlines in the eastern Niger Delta," the statement said, adding that the oil washing up on the coast must have been a "third party spill".

Spills by all oil companies operating in the region are common, and it is sometimes hard to tell where they originate.

"Oil from the Bonga leak had largely dispersed by Sunday, December 25, 2011 due to the integrated efforts ... in the application of dispersants and natural processes of dispersal," the statement said.

Shell's pipelines in Nigeria's onshore Niger delta have spilled oil several times. The company usually blames such leaks on sabotage attacks and rampant oil theft.

The company said on Wednesday it was working to plug a leak caused by sabotage, which shut its 70,000 bpd Nembe Creek pipeline.

A U.N. report in August criticised Shell and the Nigerian government for contributing to 50 years of pollution in the Niger Delta region, which it said needs the world's largest oil clean-up, costing an initial $1 billion and taking up to 30 years.

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