The Nigerian subsidiary of Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell Thursday announced ”the temporary shut down” of the Soku gas plant in Rivers State, in the country’s oil producing Niger Delta region, in order to carry out urgently needed repairs resulting from damage caused by a significant increase in condensate theft from the plant’s pipelines.
Consequently, the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) said in a statement made available to PANA here that it had declared ‘force majeure’ on gas supplies to Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) for the duration of the shut down.
Soku supplies some 40% of NLNG’s feed gas.
In recent months the number of illegal connections on pipelines has increased significantly and they are encroaching on the Soku plant itself, increasing safety risks to an unacceptable level, the company said.
”To ensure the safety and security of staff, contractor staff and communities, urgent repair work must be carried out immediately on the pipelines outside of the perimeter of the plant. To do this safely, the plant must be shut down. SPDC will also clean up nearby environmental damage caused by condensate spilled in these illegal operations,” it said.
The statement quoted SPDC Managing Director Mutiu Sunmonu as saying: “Our first responsibility is for the health and safety of our staff and our neighbours. The level of theft from this pipeline has meant we had to remove more than 50 illegal valves in August and September alone.
”Over the last few weeks the situation has deteriorated rapidly and resulted in a situation where safety concerns dictated we had to shut in. We also approached a stage where we have questions regarding the integrity of the pipeline which we will check.”
SPDC is the largest private-sector oil and gas company in Nigeria.
It is the operator of a joint venture in which the government, through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), holds 55%, Shell 30%, Elf Petroleum Nigeria Limited (a subsidiary of Total) 10%, and Agip 5%.