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Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS-A ) announced on Monday that it would shut down one of its major pipelines in Nigeria, Africa's largest oil producer, The Associated Press has reported. The announcement came after a fire broke out in its Bomu-Bonny line Sunday morning. It is presumed the fire was started by oil thieves, who steal as many as 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the region. Last year, Shell produced about 800,000 bpd in Nigeria, the AP says. Shutting down the Bomu-Bonny pipeline will also decrease oil production in the region by 150,000 bpd.
The illegal siphoning of oil is a major environmental problem as well in Nigeria, where thieves were estimated to have been responsible for oil spills amounting to more than 11,800 barrels in 118 separate incidents in 2011. Further, the topography of the area is very difficult to monitor; the area is largely wetlands spanning thousands of kilometers.