Lagos — Shell, Thursday, disclosed that it recorded seven operational spills in 2019, compared to 15 in 2018 and 156 spills as a result of theft and sabotage, compared to 109 in 2018.
In a report published for stakeholders in the petroleum industry, the company stated that in 2019, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Joint Venture (JV) reduced operational spills to their lowest levels, significantly reduced breaches from wellheads and cleaned up more spill sites than ever before.
It added that in 2019, SPDC JV remediated 130 sites, noting that the SPDC JV was working to eliminate spills from its operational activities, remediate past spills and prevent spills caused by crude oil theft, sabotage of pipelines or illegal oil refining.
However, it stated that while SPDC operates to the same technical standards as other Shell companies globally, illegal activities continue to inhibit a normal operating environment.
The company added that challenges remain in preventing spills relating to sabotage and theft by third parties, adding that these illegal activities accounted for 95 per cent of the SPDC JV spill incidents in 2019, a similar proportion to previous years.
In 2019, the company said there were 156 theft and sabotage-related spills over 100 kilograms, up from 109 in 2018, blaming it on increased availability of production facilities after a major export line repair in 2017, crude theft activities in an election year when government security agents can be reassigned, and the price of crude oil and refined products that is seen as an opportunity for illegal refining.
Despite preventive efforts, Shell noted that spilled volumes from illegal activities increased to around 2,000 tonnes of crude in 2019, compared with around 1,600 tonnes in 2018.
It said: “Past spills from operational and illegal activities have been well documented, resulting in a clean-up programme and, where appropriate, compensation. There is still much work to do to get the company to its target of Goal Zero in all spills (operational and third-party vandalism).
“But through a solid strategy, active partnerships, closer community engagements, bold security and new surveillance equipment, the company is steadily making good progress. This progress are in the following areas: improving performance, preventing illegal activity, response and investigation, improving remediation and clean-up in Ogoniland.”
Shell said it has a global ambition to achieve no harm and no leaks across all its operations, known as GoalZero.
To reduce the number of operational spills in Nigeria, Shell said the SPDC JV is focused on implementing its ongoing work programme to appraise, maintain and replace key sections of pipelines and flow lines.
In 2019, it said SPDC completed another 30 kilometres of new pipelines, bringing the total laid over the last eight years to around 1,330 kilometres, adding that these efforts had significantly reduced operational spills over 100 kilograms to seven incidents and 28 tonnes of crude in 2019, compared to 15 incidents and 413 tonnes in 2018.
This, the company said, represented a year-on-year reduction of more than 90 per cent by volume, returning the joint venture to its trend of reducing operational spills.
It said, “Community engagement and the ongoing commitment from government agencies has also helped shorten response times to incidents. SPDC’s average time to complete the clean-up of free and/or residual spilled oil has halved from 13 days in 2016 to seven days in 2019. Closer engagement with communities has helped SPDC to access spill locations more quickly, meaning on average that joint investigations now commence within three days in 2019 compared to six days in 2016.”