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Shell has restarted production at its Bonga oil field offshore Nigeria, after an oil leak in December forced it to shut down the facility

The Anglo-Dutch oil major was forced to shut down the facility, after a leak during a tanker loading operation on December 20 led to Nigeria's worst offshore oil spill in more than a decade.

An investigation into the exact cause of the leak is still ongoing, but Shell said it had completed the clean-up from the spill and resumed output on January 1 at the 200,000 bpd oil field, which makes up some 10 per cent of Nigeria's total oil output.

"We have isolated the faulty line, which was the only one of its type in the Bonga field, and reinforced our asset integrity and safety programme," said Shell Nigeria Country Chairman, Mutiu Sunmonu in a statement. "This, together with additional inspection testing and monitoring, is what gives us the confidence that it is safe to restart.”

The company also restated its denial of accusations from Nigerian villagers that oil which washed up on the shoreline last week was from the Bonga spill. According to Shell, oil from the Bonga leak – which resulted in at least 40,000 barrels of oil spilling into the ocean – had largely dispersed by December 25 thanks to the combined response efforts of the company, its partners and the Nigerian government.

"Satellite and aerial imagery has confirmed that the Bonga oil leak could not have reached coastlines in the eastern Niger Delta, as some media articles have suggested," Sunmonu said.