Nigeria LNG Sees Stable Soku Gas Feed By 2010

Source: Reuters 12/2/2009, Location: Africa

The Nigeria LNG (NLNG) plant expects supplies from Royal Dutch Shell's Soku feed gas plant to rise from current levels of around 0.5 billion cubic feet a day to a stable 0.65 bcf/day by 2010, an NLNG executive said.

At full production Soku, in the unstable Niger Delta, can supply about 1.1 bcf/day of gas to NLNG, or about 40 percent of the export terminal's total feed gas.

But Soku is still only running at about half its capacity after reopening in October following lengthy repairs to pipelines damaged by gas thieves in 2008.

"When Soku went off we went to below 50 percent of our overall production capacity, but now with Soku 50-percent back that's taken our overall production capacity up to about 60 percent," Patrick Olinma, commercial manager at NLNG, told Reuters on Wednesday on the sidelines of an LNG conference in Barcelona.

"Of course if Soku goes up our overall production capacity will also go up What we think is that the plant (Soku) will stabilise at around 650 million cubic feet a day at the end of the year."

Soku was reopened in April 2009 but had to shut again just days later because of more pipeline leaks.

The unit was restarted again in October but a spokesman for Shell declined to give a production update for December. "We resumed operations in mid-October and production is ramping up," the spokesman said, adding that the force majeure on supplies remained in place.

At full production NLNG -- a consortium of state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp, Shell, Total and Eni can supply about a tenth of the world's LNG, gas cooled to liquid form for export by tanker.

Olinma said new gas production projects should boost supplies to the liquefaction facility further next year. "If everything goes as planned some of them should be coming onstream towards the end of next year or the beginning of 2011, so it is looking up," he said.

With Asian and European markets well stocked ahead of winter, any incremental supply coming could find its way to U.S. shores.

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