Shell reveals real cause of oil spills in Nigeria

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Shell Nigeria has claimed that majority of the oil spills recorded in the Niger Delta was caused by crude oil theft, the sabotage of oil and gas production facilities, and illegal oil refining, including the distribution of illegally refined products.

In its 2021 Briefing Notes, the oil major disclosed that its spending on security has significantly increased as it sought to protect its assets in the country.

It stated that why the number of oil spills caused by theft and sabotage dropped by 13.11 per cent from 122 in 2020, to 106 in 2021, the volume of oil spilled increased by 120 per cent to 3,300 tonnes, from 1,500 tonnes in 2020.

According to the oil company, the measures it has taken to prevent illegal actions on its facilities in Nigeria was way beyond the precautions it has to take in other countries where it operates.

Specifically, it noted that in 2021, in all its oil and gas operations globally, Nigeria solely accounted for all the oil spills it recorded, that was caused by sabotage and crude oil theft adding that it had had to suspend production in some areas due to heightened security risks.

Specifically, it stated that six people working for a contractor, in one of the joint ventures that it operates, were killed in 2021, in addition to a government security agent who was also killed, while seven other people were injured, when gunmen attacked a convoy of buses travelling to the Assa North/Ohaji South gas development project site.Following the attack, the company stated that its subsidiary operating the asset, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), immediately stopped work on the site, noting that work would resume on the site when the partners are satisfied that security has been restored around the project site.To reduce spills caused by theft and sabotage, the oil major disclosed that over the years, it has continued to introduce a number of measures, noting that in 2021, it sustained the on-ground surveillance of its areas of operation, including its pipeline network, to mitigate third-party interference and ensure the detection of spills, as well as ensure quick response to spills.“SPDC has introduced anti-theft protection mechanisms for key infrastructure such as well heads and manifolds. A programme to protect well heads with steel cages continues to help deter theft.

“In 2021, a total of 283 cages were installed, including 62 that were upgraded with closed-circuit television (CCTV). This compared with a total of 364 installed cages by the end of 2020. The year-on-year reduction is a result of the 2021 divestment of SPDC’s interest in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 17. In 2021, 29 breaches were successful, out of around 1,700 registered attempts,” the company said.

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