Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell says it is close to completing a new oil pipeline in Nigeria’s restive Niger Delta region.
Shell says the pipeline will stretch some 97 kilometers and will be able to transport 600,000 barrels of oil per day to the Bonny export terminal in Rivers state.
The company says the $1.1 billion Nembe Creek Trunkline will replace an existing pipeline running through the Delta.
Shell says the new pipeline is part of an ongoing program to maintain the company’s facilities.
Local residents and environmentalists blame aging pipelines for oil spills in the region.
The managing director of Shell’s Nigeria subsidiary, Mutiu Sunmonu, says the new pipelines will have a limited impact on oil spills until widespread oil theft, sabotage and vandalism activities are stopped.
Earlier this month, Shell claimed 98 percent of oil spilled in 2009 was the result of sabotage, but said it had cleaned all spills, regardless of the cause.
Shell’s oil facilities in Nigeria have been the regular target of militants, who have blown up pipelines, kidnapped oil company workers and fought government troops since 2006.
The main militant group, MEND, said it was fighting for a more equitable distribution of oil wealth. Nigeria’s government launched an amnesty program for the militants last year.