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Eni Declares Force Majeure on Nigeria Oil Exports

Source: Reuters 4/28/2010, Location: Africa

Italian oil firm ENI has declared force majeure on Nigeria's Brass River oil exports, a company spokesman said, after a disruption to supplies in Africa's largest exporter.

ENI's share of output affected by the force majeure is 12,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, the spokesman said. ENI is the operator of Brass River, whose output overall has been cut by 60,000 bpd, trading sources said.

"Force majeure since the 25th of April," an industry source told Reuters earlier. Force majeure is a contractual clause that allows companies to miss deliveries because of circumstances beyond their control.

A second industry source said the disruption was due to a "major attack" on a pipeline earlier this week, which has caused a serious spill in the oil-producing Niger Delta.

This could not be independently verified. A spokesman for Nigeria's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), could not be immediately reached for comment.

"I can confirm Agip suffered a major attack at Brass," the source said. "Crude oil has spilled in the water. It is a very serious spill. The company is trying to contain it."

Brass River is a gasoline-rich crude oil and priced in relation to benchmark Brent LCOc1, which reached almost $88 a barrel -- the highest since October 2008 -- earlier this week and recently traded above $85.

Brass River was scheduled to export about 132,000 bpd of oil in April, according to loading programmes.

Brass River oil supplies have been subject to delays due to militant attacks on pipelines in the past.

A spokesman for the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., which also holds equity in Brass River oil, had no immediate comment. U.S. oil company ConocoPhillips is also an equity holder.

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