IBADAN, Nigeria – Royal Dutch Shell plc's unit in Nigeria has said a rise in thefts of crude from its new Nembe Creek pipeline is jeopardizing the production and export of oil in Nigeria's Niger Delta.
Currently 140,000 barrels of oil per day is transported along the pipeline that takes most of the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd.'s and third party crude oil production in Eastern Swamp operations to the Bonny Terminal in the Niger Delta.
"The level of crude theft at Nembe Creek Trunkline can no longer be tolerated," said SPDC Managing Director, Mutiu Sunmonu, in Port Harcourt, capital of oil-producing Rivers state.
"It is difficult to sustain production in the circumstances as we have to shut down when a facility trips and fix the cause before restarting. This happened three times just between the 26th and 30th of January," Sunmonu said Monday.
"We have increased surveillance of the route so we can detect crude theft activities and respond early to spills, but what is urgently needed is robust intervention at federal, state and local government levels. We need increased patrols of creeks and waterways, removal of illegal offtake points and dismantling of illegal refineries," SPDC said.
The pipeline was shut in December because of leaks caused by thieves. Since those repairs were completed more than 50 valves (created by thieves to siphon off the oil) have been discovered, Tony Okonedo, SPDC spokesman, said in a statement Monday. In one case, some 17 of these valves were found within a 3.8 kilometer stretch.
Helicopter overflights Monday confirmed thefts of crude is thriving in southern Nigeria's Rivers and Bayelsa states. As well as valves some other connections were made directly to wellheads, the statement said.
More than 75% of all oil spill incidents and more than 70% of all oil spilled from SPDC facilities in the Niger Delta between 2006 and 2010 were caused by sabotage, theft and illegal refining, Okonedo said.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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