30 August 2014, Lagos – peculations that Anglo Dutch oil giant, Shell is considering cancelling the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNPL) in the creeks of Niger Delta is stirring anger in the region. A group, operating as Niger Delta Pollution Vanguards Movement (NDPVM) which is spearheading pressure to prevent the project cancellation, has written to President Goodluck Jonathan, urging him to intervene and avert the planned cancellation of the contract for the transport of oil and gas through some Niger Delta communities.
It insists that the proposed pipeline project will prevent environmental degradation of the communities from oil spills emanating from ruptured pipelines, reports Bennett Oghifo
The project known as Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) transports around 180,000 barrels per day of crude oil to the Bonny Export Terminal and is part of the gas liquids evacuation infrastructure, critical for continued domestic power generation (Afam VI power plant) and liquefied gas exports. The proposed pipeline project is meant to replace the old ruptured that have caused repeated damage to the environment and way of life of the people. The desire to replace them has long been on the drawing board. The sudden cold feet developed by Shell has mystified the affected communities who had hoped that new pipeline project will significantly bring succour to the environment and ease the impact of oil spills resulting from frequent of rupture of the current aging pipelines.
According to Shell, “The loopline project creates an alternative route to avoid sabotage, bypassing an area where theft and illegal refining have been common. In addition, the project will install monitoring systems to detect any intrusion or leak. The pipeline will not be completely covered to allow security patrol boats to quickly access all pipeline sections.”
The project location is Ogale, Alakiri, Cawthorne Channel and Bonny.
Shell Petroleum Development Company Ltd (SPDC) is the joint venture (JV) operator of an unincorporated JV with a 30 per cent interest, and the partners are Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC: 55%), Total E&P Nigeria Ltd (10%), and Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC: 5%).
Shell said the project aims to secure the evacuation of crude from assets in the eastern part of the Niger Delta, and of natural gas from the Gbaran, Agbada, Okoloma and Alakiri gas plants to the Bonny terminal. After completion, it will also allow for easier access to maintain the infrastructure.
The project includes a system that will use fibre-optic sensing technology to detect intrusion into the pipeline right of way and leaks. It can be configured to suit different environments, whether solid ground or swamp. It relays real-time information to a control centre.
The project consists of three parts: 1. 12.5 km 30” pipeline from Ogale to Eleme/Ogu Bolo over land terrain; A 25.5 km 30” pipeline from Eleme/Ogu Bolo to the Cawthorne Channel Junction Manifold and a 2.4 km 8” pipeline from Alakiri to Ojikiri spurline; both over swamp terrain; A 20km 30’’ pipeline and a 20 km 24” loop pipeline leg from Cawthorne Channel Junction Manifold to Bonny Oil & Gas Terminal; both over swamp terrain.
According to Shell, “Final investment decision was taken on the project on June 14, 2013. The contracts for the first package were signed on July 3, 2013 with the KAZTEC Engineering Limited. The award of packages two and three is awaiting Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Board approval.”
Regulatory approval, the company said has been granted for the environmental impact assessment report.
TNPL is the first project in Nigeria to procure line pipes from a local pipe mill as part of SPDC’s efforts to provide local jobs and business. “The project invested significantly to improve the quality and safety standards of the local mill to meet Shell standards,” they said.
Effect on the environment…
Shell said specialists from the project carried out an environmental impact assessment together with affected communities and regulatory authorities. “Measures to limit the impact of activities include using a horizontal directional drilling technique that goes below major rivers and roads, rather than dredging the rivers, reducing social-economic impact and disruption to wildlife.”
They said the project employs local people directly and generates business for local suppliers and contractors. Communities are expected to also benefit from investment in programmes that they can choose under a scheme called the global memoranda of understanding.
Regardless, the Niger Delta Pollution Vanguards Movement (NDPVM) said they have information that SPDC allegedly plans to halt the project and, want the president to prevent this because of its benefit to the local communities.
“Our findings reveal that this TNPL project, which is expected to put an end to environment degradation and illegal bunkering, may not see the light of day in view of Shell’s ill conceived plans to cancel the project.”
They said the award and implementation of this project will enhance the integrity of the environment and restore the livelihood of peasant fishermen and farmers in the right of way communities, whose farmlands and fishing activities have been adversely affected by oil spillage from ruptured pipes and criminal activities of illegal bunkerers.
The implementation of the TNPL Project, they said would no doubt create massive employment opportunities for the unemployed youths in the communities and also assist local contractors to take advantage of local content opportunities, which in turn will aid in the socio-political development of the host communities. The said more importantly, the issues of oil spillage and bunkering would be laid to rest.
NDPVM said, “The proposed cancellation of the Trans Niger Pipeline Loopline Project on the backdrop of a deteriorating environment occasioned by crude oil spillages on the ruptured existing pipeline poses a danger to the health of the host communities and their environment.”
The group said the communities on the right of way and impacted communities would now be exposed to danger by the increasing pollution of land and river.
The letter to the president read in part, “We do recall a public commitment by the Managing Director of SPDC at a public forum wherein he expressed SPDC’S commitment to concerned NGOs and affected host communities, particularly Ogale, Ebubu, Ejaka, Ejama, Fibalakiri, Mgbegbeboko, Ichikiri, Alakiri, Ojikiri, Johnsonkiri, Dikibotorusingha, Adamakiri, West Point and Atabakiri and Cawthorne Chanel, Fusokiri, Atabakiri, Ligakiri, Kuruma, Iwoamakuruama, Obonima, Kuruama, Kalaibiama, Iwoma, Ayambo and Bonny with respect to awarding the contract for the replacement of the ruptured pipelines.
“We see the sudden cold feet developed by SPDC towards the award of this project as a deliberate effort to sabotage the promise Shell made to this government and to the aforementioned communities. What has changed between when Shell made this commitment and now? Has the spill and attendant pollution of the affected communities stopped? Has the dilapidated pipeline eventually become new?”
They stated that “a ruptured and dilapidated pipeline cannot be abandoned by SPDC in the western world where it has similar operations and we do believe in the integrity and objective disposition of this government in calling SPDC to order with immediate effect as the continued delay in kick-starting this TNPL Project is a grand design to undermine the resourceful leadership of this administration.”
They alleged that SPDC seeks to abandon the replacement of a ruptured pipeline that has become the hub of illegal bunkering and oil spillages in a once volatile region that the Jonathan administration has expended so much money in rehabilitating and integrating its ex-militants.
According to them, “The communities are becoming restive by the second and there is a need to avoid a backlash of violence occasioned by resentment towards SPDC nonchalant attitude to the environment and health of the aforementioned communities.”
They appealed to President Jonathan “to call Shell to order to ensure that the TNPL Project is awarded without further delay. We wish to assure you of our continued support in your concerted efforts to re-position the oil and gas industry.”
On his part, Priye Okpoma, an indigene of Adamakiri, one of the proposed communities affect by the project, however accused the oil giant wanting to divert the money meant for the contract abroad. ‘‘They want to take the money abroad to develop their economy instead of ploughing just a little to save our communities. Is that not wickedness?,’’ rhetorically. We are watching and warning them not to cancel the project, because apart from saving our environment, our youths will be employed throughout the duration of the contract,’’ he declared.
The Niger Delta Pollution Vanguard Movement, in its petition to the President also copied Shell Petroleum Development Company, Shell Head Quarters, the Hague, Netherlands, Minister for Petroleum, Diezani Alison Madueke and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency urging their attention on the issue.
– This Day