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IOCs, others raise alarm as vandalism, oil theft rise in Niger Delta

There are indications that Nigeria has lost significant oil as a result of increasing pipeline vandalism and oil theft in the Nigeria Delta.

Investigation by Vanguardover the weekend showed that many oil companies, including the International Oil Companies, IOCs and indigenous producers have been affected.

For instance, the latest report obtained from Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, indicated that the company, apparently the highest producer with over 600,000 barrels per day, bpd, experienced 39 cases of vandalism and oil theft between January – April, 2019.

A breakdown showed that 12, 15, eight and four incidents were recorded in January, February, March and April 2019 respectively.

In its latest Briefing Notes, Shell stated: “Security remains a high priority due to continued crude oil theft and criminality in parts of the Niger Delta. Illegal refining and third-party interference are the main sources of pollution in the Niger Delta today. Third party interference caused close to 90% of the number of spills of more than 100 kilograms from The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited operated Joint Venture (SPDC JV) pipelines in 2018.

“Security in parts of the Niger Delta remains a major concern with persisting incidents of criminality, kidnapping and sabotage as well as onshore and offshore piracy. Although there has been no damage to key oil and gas infrastructure caused by militant activity since November 2016, the security situation remains volatile in this region of the country.

“Facilities operated by both indigenous and international oil and gas companies continue to be affected by attacks and other illegal activities such as crude oil theft. This led to disruptions to oil and gas production in 2018, particularly for indigenous producers and incidents of environmental contamination. Disruption to production also impacted revenue for the Federal Government of Nigeria and to gas supply to power electricity for industry, businesses and public-sector services.”

However, Shell is not alone. Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), operator of the joint venture between Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and CNL also has a bitter experience.

Investigation by Vanguard showed that at about 10:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, 2019, a fire was observed at the Ojumole Well No. 1, an idle and plugged well with no flowline connected to it. Ojumole field is in NNPC/CNL JV’s Western Niger Delta area of operations.

A Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) to the site of the incident on Saturday April 20, 2019, by a team made up of regulatory agencies, community stakeholders and CNL, determined that the fire incident was caused by third-party interference.

Environmental monitoring by independent, accredited environmental consultants is on-going in the area, while the company is currently working with contractors to safely put out the fire as quickly as possible.

The General Manager, Policy, Government and Public Affairs, (PGPA), Mr.EsimajeBrikinn had, some months ago, emphasised the value of participatory partnerships in combating the menace of oil theft and pipeline vandalism in oil and gas operations in the Niger Delta.

In his presentation, “Innovative Strategies – Combating Crude Oil Theft & Pipeline Vandalism”, Mr. Brikinn had noted that every IOC in Nigeria has been affected in one way or the other by the activities of oil thieves, engaging in illegal bunkering and “local refining” operations, adding that their activities continue to cause significant damage to the environment and affect revenue streams leading to loss of benefits.

However, one of the indigenous companies which operations have been seriously and repeatedly disrupted in recent times is Aiteo Group.

In a recent statement sent to Vanguard, the company’s spokesman, Mr. Ndiana Mathew, stated: “Less than 24hrs after starting up the NCTL from repairs of identified leak points occasioned by activities of oil thieves, 2 new leak points were reported along the line near Awoba Riser Manifold.

“Our emergency response process was immediately activated, and containment boom deployed to limit oil spread on bodies of water whilst efforts to identify cause of incident/repair have been initiated.

“Consequently, all injectors have been advised in accordance with NCTL shutdown procedure to shut-in production into the NCTL immediately. Appropriate Oil Leakage/Spillage Notification Report will follow shortly to DPR/NOSDRA.”

These and many other incidents call for serious attention, especially as it has already been reported that every day, oil companies in Nigeria lose between 300,000 and 400,000 barrels of oil to illegal theft, thus affected the industry and the nation’s economy.

In an interview with Vanguard, distinguished Prof Hilary Inyang, President, Global Education and Infrastructure Services (GEISE) LLC, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA and member, Education Caucus, United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, New York, USA, added: “Definitely, environmental pollution is a contributor to the low life expectancy of about 54.6 years estimated for all parts of Nigeria. The conditions are worse in some areas of the Niger Delta because of the large number of both legacy oil pollution sites and more recent oil spills which my assessments put at about 2900 in 2010 when I spent two years in Nigeria on the issue.”