3 November 2011, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The Shell Petroleum Development of Nigeria (SPDC), the local arm of the Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria, says it has discovered 16 new oil theft points in its “Imo River field” in the Niger Delta.
Raising an alarm on what it described as an unprecedented level in crude oil theft in Nigeria, the company said 10 additional illegal oil bunkering incidents had been recorded in the Eastern Niger Delta since it shut down production from Imo River field on August 28.
The field was shut down following an upsurge in sabotage activities, which had adversely impacted the environment, resulting in deferment of 25,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd).
Mr. Tony Attah, Shell’s Vice-President, Health Safety and Environment (HSE) and Corporate Affairs, sub-Saharan Africa, made these disclosures in an interactive session with journalists.
He said production from the affected field would “remain suspended until the crude theft and illegal refining activities have stopped”.
According to him, a recent helicopter overfly showed that unknown persons had drilled holes and installed valves to transfer crude to waiting barges and trucks, in the process polluting farm lands and water bodies.
“We are very disappointed that oil thieves are still at work,” Attah said.
He continued: “This is why we call for concerted efforts to help stop this criminal activity, which not only puts the lives of the perpetrators and the public at risk, but causes severe environmental impact and impacts the communities in the areas. It also wastes badly needed revenue to finance development even in the same areas in which the activities are taking place.”
He stated that more than 75 per cent of all oil spill incidents and more than 70 per cent of all oil spilled from the SPDC facilities in the Niger Delta between 2006 and 2010 were caused by sabotage, theft and illegal refining, adding that since January 1, this year, the company had published data on every spill on the web to further demonstrate the robustness of its oil spill response process.
Attah also revealed that the company was examining ways to bring third party verification to the oil spill investigation process in order to bring further transparency to the assessment of causes and volumes.