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You Can’t Shut down Gas Plants, Barkindo Warns Shell

– Says Excuse of Non-Evacuation of Condensate not Tenable

By Hector Igwikiowubo
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo has ordered Shell Petroleum Development Company to desist from threatening to shut down gas plants on the excuse of non-evacuation of condensate from its pipelines.

Barkindo handed down this order during a courtesy visit to the Inspector General of Police, Dr Ogbonnaya Onovo, to solicit the support of the police in curbing pipeline vandalism.

The NNPC helmsman who explained the circumstances that led to NNPC’s earlier offer to help evacuate condensate from Shell’s pipelines said the Corporation was not under any obligation to evacuate condensate from Shell’s pipeline.

“We have no agreement whatsoever to evacuate condensate for any oil company. Shell has the responsibility to evacuate what they produce be it condensate, crude or gas,” he declared.

Putting in perspective the circumstances that led to NNPC’s offer to help out in the evacuation, Barkindo explained that it became expedient for NNPC to intervene when Shell was having difficulties with gas supply because of the congestion of condensate in its Trans-Forcados Pipeline system.

“Instead of shutting down their gas plant, we offered to evacuate some of the condensate through the Warri Refinery. We provided them with two tanks which we normally give them based on the average production of three weeks of haulage. We pump some of it to Kaduna, refine some in Warri and evacuate  some for export.

This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but it has been going on since May last year. At the moment, we have brought the Warri refinery back on stream and we are ramping up production. To expect us to make the temporary arrangement of helping out in condensate evacuation permanent would mean we have to continuously shut down the Warri Refinery in order to  evacuate their own condensate since they have not been able to get their own pipeline back,” Barkindo explained.

He said the primary responsibility of NNPC was to ensure that the refineries are working and producing products for domestic use.

“Now that we have been able to repair our own system 2C pipeline coming from Forcados to Warri and Kaduna, we cannot again face Nigerians and say sorry we have to shut down Warri Refinery because we have to evacuate condensate for Shell to keep Utorogu going,” he said.

He said till date Shell has refused to implement a medium term measure the Corporation suggested as a way out of the conundrum.

“We proposed to them to take on cargoes of Forcados blend which we learnt has an API of about 28. We can blend 100 per cent of SPDC’s condensate and still make it conform to the process in our plants. With this we can manage the condensate more efficiently and SPDC can operate its facilities on a more continuous basis,”

The GMD promised that as part of NNPC’s corporate social responsibility, it would continue to provide to assist shell by providing tankage for the evacuation of condensate, adding that at the moment such facilities were on ground and evacuation was ongoing.

He, however, ruled out the possibility of sustaining that arrangement in the long term, adding that a more sustainable measure of repairing and securing the Trans-Forcados pipeline was being worked out which is part of the reasons for his visit to security chiefs to seek their help in securing the pipelines.


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