Oil theft: Shell threatens to shut down production
BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME
PORT HARCOURT – SHELL Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, has decried the rising incident of crude oil theft from its facilities in the Niger Delta region, saying it could force the company to shut down operations.
The Managing Director of SPDC, Mr Mutiu Sunmonu, who spoke weekend in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said the company was losing an average of 60,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Describing this as the highest volume of crude being stolen so far within the last three years, Sunmonu said the company started witnessing this upsurge since January this year.
“The situation in the last few weeks is unprecedented. The volume being stolen is the highest in the last three years; over 60, 000 barrels per day from Shell alone. So, that for me is a great concern,” he said.
While appealing to the Joint Task Force, JTF to step up its fight against oil theft in the region, the Shell boss also called for collaboration between international and local agencies to fight the crime
Sunmonu who did not rule out involvement of international syndicates in the crime, said those behind it had started setting up tank farms, barge building yards and facilities to store the stolen crude before shipment.
“This whole crime has gotten a lot more sophisticated and you could see that the perpetrators are now setting up barge building yards, they are setting up storage facilities, they are setting up tank farms for storing the crude, prior to shipping out. So, if you look at all of these, it is very clear to me that this is not just an act by desperate individuals trying to make a living. This certainly is a well funded criminal activity, probably involving international syndicates”
The Shell boss, who expressed worries over the rising incidence, especially as regards the devastation on the environment arising from the activities of the oil thieves, said, “…but I worry more about the devastation, the devastation for the people of Niger Delta, the destruction it will cause to the social and environmental aspect of the people of the delta and to Nigeria as a whole”
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Anglo Dutch oil giant said it had had been forced to shut down production on 12 flow stations three times in February this year alone because of oil theft, adding that the situation caused the deferment of production of 150 barrels on each day.
The statement said there had been increased attacks on the company’s Nembe Creek Trunkline , NCTL. During an overfly Vanguard observed crude oil flowing on top of the water around the Nembe creek trunkline. Tanks used for refining some of the crude were littered around camps set up at the shore of the sea. Barges, canoes loaded with crude were visible from the height. Ironically, no security patrol around the area was noticed.