Bonga start date delayed until next year.
Royal Dutch/Shell has twice delayed the date of the Wallsend-built vessel's first production and it was expected to begin later this year.
But the news is a minor setback for Shell, which has bigger problems after overstating its reserves and prompting a drop in its share price and a regulatory probe.
The Anglo-Dutch group, which rocked the market in January by announcing it had over-estimated stocks by 20pc, last month said its reserves in Norway were 250 million barrels lower than thought.
But analysts say that the delays in Bonga, which is Nigeria's biggest offshore oil project, could hamper the country's bid to win a bigger share of output from its partners in the OPEC producer cartel.
Shell executives said yesterday that there were problems with the oilfield where Bonga is sited and production was unlikely to start until next year.