* Exxon calls force majeure on Nigeria's biggest oil grade
* Shell's force majeure on Forcados exports in place
* Raft of output problems hit Nigeria in recent weeks
By Joe Brock and Emma Farge
ABUJA/GENEVA, Nov 21 ExxonMobil on
Wednesday became the fourth oil major in a month to warn
customers over delays to Nigerian oil and gas exports, adding to
a raft of problems for Africa's biggest energy producer caused
by oil spills, theft and flooding.
Royal Dutch Shell lifted on Wednesday its force
majeure on Nigeria's benchmark Bonny Light crude oil exports,
easing some of the supply concerns.
But three of Nigeria main oil grades; Qua Iboe, Brass River
and Forcados are still under force majeure. These oil streams
together account for around 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) or
around a third of total Nigerian exports.
France's Total and Italian oil firm Eni
have also declared force majeure, on gas and oil supplies,
Nigeria is among the world's top 10 crude oil exporters and
usually ships around 2 million bpd, but a major fire caused by
oil theft, Exxon's spill and flooding have severely hit output.
Oil traders said that loading delays are worsening and are
now up to two weeks for some cargoes.
Exxon's Nigerian unit declared force majeure on Qua Iboe
crude oil exports on Wednesday due to outages caused by a
pipeline oil spill on Nov. 9, which witnesses said had spread 20
miles down the coastline.
"There are issues with two areas in a pipeline resulting in
hydrocarbon release offshore," an oil trader said.
Mark Ward, the managing director of Exxon Mobil's local
unit, has said a clean up had been mobilised, and he apologised
to affected communities for the spill.
Shell's outages were prompted by a huge fire on an oil
tanker being used to steal oil last month. The Anglo-Dutch major
shut another pipeline in Imo River on Oct. 31 due to theft
damage and deferred 25,000 bpd.
Oil theft is a major problem in the winding creeks and
waterways of the Niger Delta, where it is easy to conceal boats
and illegal refineries in the dense mangroves. Nigeria estimates
around 150,000 bpd is stolen, much of which is sold abroad.
Total last week restarted production from its 90,000 bpd OML
58 block, which was shut down a month ago due to severe flooding
in the Delta swamplands.
Eni declared force majeure earlier this month on Brass River
oil loadings due to floods, causing cargo delays of eight to 10