The Nigerian subsidiary of oil giant Shell Monday raised an alarm over the effects of continued crude oil theft along one of its major export pipelines, saying the practice could affect the production and export of 140,000 barrels per day from the company and third party production.
In a statement obtained by PANA here, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) said there had been an increase in crude theft activities on the new Nembe Creek Trunkline (NCTL), barely 16 months after the old line was replaced due to repeated sabotage attacks.
On 24 December 2011, the line was shut down because of leaks caused by two failed bunkering (oil stealing) points, and since repairs were completed, more than 50 theft valves have been discovered. In one case, some 17 illegal bunkering points were found within a distance of 3.8km, the firm said.
The NCTL is used to transport crude oil from production points to the Bonny Terminal for export..
“The level of crude theft at NCTL can no longer be tolerated,” the statement quoted SPDC Managing Director Mutiu Sunmonu as saying in the oil city of Port Harcourt Monday.
“There have been multiple facility trips caused by pressure drops resulting from illegal offtake. This is more than Nigeria losing money from lost production, costly repairs and clean-up and facility downtime. It is a sad story of consistent pollution of farm lands and rivers by people who are not bothered by the effects of their actions on the environment,” he said.
Some 70,000 barrels of oil per day was deferred in the December leak, which took a month to repair because of the swampy terrain.
SPDC said the crude thieves took advantage of the repair window to install more bunkering points and fix hoses to take crude to sea vessels and illegal refineries. The vessels transport the stolen crude to waiting mother ships while the refined product is sold locally.
According to Shell, 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.
SPDC is the largest private-sector oil and gas company in Nigeria, and operates a joint venture between the government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC.
Nigeria’s daily crude oil export is slightly over 2 million barrels