Shell clarifies alleged arrest of staff over oil theft

28 November 2012, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, has denied media reports saying two of its staff members were arrested by government security forces for alleged involvement in crude theft.

The company also expressed concern over allegations credited to government security agencies that its failure to repair identified bunkering points is frustrating their efforts to combat oil theft in the Niger Delta.

In a statement issued in Lagos, Shell said, “Without prejudice to the ongoing investigation, we can confirm that those arrested are not SPDC employees. Indications from the investigation suggest that they are employees of one of several community-based contractors who perform pipeline surveillance work in the Niger Delta on SPDC’s behalf.”

With regard to the damaged pipelines, the company noted that such allegation, “fails to recognise the complexities faced by operators in the Niger Delta today,” adding that “particularly challenging and risky is the fact that every time SPDC shuts down production to make repairs and disable identified theft points, the crude thieves use the opportunity to install new theft points along the facility”.

The statement read: By October 2012, SPDC had removed 135 illegal connections for oil theft. Ninety-six of these were responsible for spills and 39 were removed as an extra precaution against further spills and oil theft. These are complex jobs, during which production is shut-in and the affected line isolated and depressurised to allow safe working conditions. However, in accordance with our commitment to asset integrity, the company continues repair programmes as diligently as possible.”

It maintained that combating the menace of crude theft required “improved security patrols by the relevant security agencies. To that end, anyone found culpable of involvement in illegal activities like crude theft, which devastate the environment and deprive the country of resources, should be prosecuted in accordance with the law.”

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