May 6, 2019 / 12:55 PM / 18 days ago

UPDATE 1-Nigeria's Nembe oil pipeline hit by shutdown, protests

(Adds Nembe Creek Trunkline suspension)

By Tife Owolabi

YENAGOA, Nigeria, May 6 (Reuters) - Oil facilities in Nigeria’s Nembe region have been hit by a shutdown and protests which began on Sunday, operator Aiteo said on Monday, including a major crude pipeline and a logistics base.

Leaks caused a shutdown of the Nembe Creek Trunkline, one of the two major pipelines exporting Bonny light crude oil, less than a day after the pipeline had reopened, Aiteo said.

The company did not say when operations might resume nor specify what impact it had on oil exports via the pipeline.

Aiteo reopened the pipeline earlier this month after a fire sparked by theft from the pipeline forced its closure. Bonny light is currently under force majeure from the previous pipeline outage.

Protesters also barricaded Aiteo’s logistics base briefly disrupting its operations, the company said.

Aiteo said that after “protracted engagement” with the protesters they agreed to stop blocking the site and present their demands to the company.

Protests are common in the populous Niger Delta area, inhabited by impoverished communities who complain they do not see the benefits of the crude extracted from their backyard.

They often protest at oil facilities since the companies are typically more responsive to their demands than the government.

Aiteo said it was committed to working with the community and noted that it provides services to the area and has contracts with local workers. But it appealed to them to negotiate rather than block operations.

“These disturbances disrupt our operations and lead to production deferment, which affects not just the company but revenues accruing to the government and people of Nigeria,” Aiteo said.

Reporting by Tife Owolabi in Yenagoa; writing by Libby George and Paul Carsten; editing by Louise Heavens and Jason Neely

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