A major Royal Dutch Shell oil and gas project nearing completion in oil-rich Niger Delta is set to produce more than 70,000 barrels per day of oil, the company said on Tuesday.

The Gbaran-Ubie Integrated Oil and Gas Project in southern Bayelsa State is currently drilling more than 30 new wells and has installed a central processing facility to treat both oil and gas, a company statement said.

At its peak, it will also produce one billion standard cubic feet of gas per day, the statement said.

“The Gbaran project is a world-class development that will boost Nigeria’s oil and gas resources significantly,” the statement quoted the project manager, Okee Elechi, as saying.

“It will help meet government targets to reduce (gas) flaring, provide more energy for Nigerians and increase exports of liquefied natural gas,” he said.

Nigeria, the world’s eighth largest oil exporter, derives more than 90 percent of its foreign earnings from crude oil sales.

The project is scheduled for completion between 2010 and 2011, the firm said, adding that it could not give a precise date.

It will deliver gas to generate power in the Niger Delta region whose communities have always complained of lack of infrastructure, including power, hospitals, schools, potable water and good roads.

The oil the project produces will be exported from the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC)’s Bonny crude terminal, the statement said.

By the end of last year, the project, which began in 2005, was more than 80 percent complete with 300 kilometres of pipelines laid, it added.

State-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in February signed 1.69 billion dollars (1.36 billion euros) loan deal with Shell to cover its share of investment in the deal, Shell officials said.

The SPDC is the major gas supplier to the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas plant in Bonny from its various fields.