February 2, 2010 / 3:04 PM / in 9 years

Swordfish attack Angolan oil pipeline

LONDON (Reuters) - Swordfish punctured part of an oil loading pipe in Angola, causing a three-day delay to tanker shipments of Girassol crude, traders said on Tuesday.

French oil company Total, which operates the crude stream declared force majeure on shipments, but lifted it on Monday.

In general, force majeure frees an operator from supply obligations due to extraordinary circumstances.

“It was caused because of swordfish. Now the swordfish have passed, so the force majeure has been lifted,” said one trader, who buys the crude on a regular basis.

Slight delays to cargo loadings scheduled in February and March were likely, traders said.

Total later said that a swordfish had damaged a flexible loading pipe.

“Total confirms that a force majeure was declared that was lifted on Monday” a company spokeswoman said.

“There have been delays in the loading of tankers but the loading was not halted.”

Girassol crude is produced from an offshore oilfield, with an average loading rate of about 250,000 barrels per day.

Swordfish have hit Angolan crude oil loadings before, including Plutonio last year, traders said.

Reporting by Ikuko Kurahone, contribution from Paris newsroom; Editing by Amanda Cooper

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