* "Less than 40,000 barrels of oil" leaked - Shell
* Field produces 10 pct of Nigerian oil exports
* Shell says oil flow now halted
(Updates share price, adds oil price, analyst quote)
By Emma Farge
LONDON, Dec 21 Royal Dutch Shell
is shutting down its huge 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) Bonga
oilfield off the Nigerian coast after a leak occurred while
loading a tanker on Tuesday, the firm said in a statement.
The Anglo-Dutch oil major said "less than 40,000 barrels of
oil" had leaked into the ocean. The flow of oil had now halted,
a spokesman said.
The leak occurred while a tanker was loading oil from
Shell's Bonga facility, about 120 kilometres off the coast of
the West African nation, according to the statement.
Shell's pipelines in Nigeria's onshore Niger delta have
spilled several times, which the company blames on sabotage
attacks and oil theft.
Bonga accounts for around 10 percent of monthly oil flows
from OPEC member Nigeria, the continent's largest exporter of
crude oil, according to Reuters data.
"We are sorry this leak has happened. As soon as we became
aware of it, we stopped the flow of oil and mobilised our own
resources, as well as industry expertise, to ensure its effects
are minimised," said Shell Nigeria Country Chair Mutiu Sunmonu.
"It is important to stress that this was not a well control
incident of any sort, and to make clear that no one has been
injured. Our focus now is on a speedy and effective clean-up,"
BP's Macondo well ruptured in April last year,
causing nearly 5 million barrels of oil to spew into the sea in
what was the worst U.S. marine oil spill.
Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company is 100
percent owned by the Anglo-Dutch oil major.
A Shell spokesman said the flow of oil had been halted on
all three of the platform's export lines where it is believed
that the leak occurred.
An investigation will be launched into the reasons for the
leak, he said, without giving a timeframe for the restart of
The company had not declared force majeure, a legal clause
allowing a company to miss deliveries due to circumstances
outside its control, he added.
Shell's share price fell during the day by more than 1
percent on Wednesday to 2,274 pence by 1405 GMT. Brent oil
prices were up 63 cents at $107.36 a barrel by the same time.
Oil traders and analysts said the Bonga closure could be
supportive both for Brent oil futures and other Nigerian crude
streams, where demand is expected to increase.
"Given the current sensitivity to potential supply
disruptions and rising geopolitical tensions it just adds to the
uncertainty in 2012... It will limit the downside on Brent
should broader market sentiment turn," said Andrey Kryuchenkov
of VTB Capital.
Bonga was due to load around 161,000 bpd on five tankers in
January, according to oil loading programmes.
(Editing by Alison Birrane and James Jukwey)