The shutdown would cut off production of about 60,000 barrels of oil a day

Royal Dutch Shell PLC says it has shut down a major pipeline running through Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta because it had been repeatedly targeted by thieves.

Shell issued a statement late Friday saying the shutdown would cut off production of about 60,000 barrels of oil a day from its Nigerian subsidiary. It said thieves have repeatedly cut into its Nembe Creek Trunkline, causing damage and leaks in the area.

Shell produced about 974,000 barrels of oil a day in 2011 in Nigeria. It declared a “force majeure” warning – meaning it is impossible for the company to cover the promised supply from the field.

Though militancy in the region has dropped since a 2009 amnesty program, foreign firms say oil thefts from pipelines have risen dramatically.

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