Shell shuts down oil pipeline due to leakage as vandalism may surge again in Ember months


By Codratus Godson

Ember months are here and vandalism of oil pipelines may surge again. Again, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has reported a leakage in one of its pipelines in Rivers State.

Coronavirus pandemic which set in about March 2020 in Nigeria seemed to reduce vandalism in the oilfields due to global panic and other related factors. This was followed by EndSARS crisis that reduced movements.

Now, SPDC said on Tuesday, November 03, 2020, the SPDC Joint Venture received report of a leaking 8” pipeline between Agbada FS and Nkpoku Manifold. “We immediately activated The Emergency and Spill Response Teams and the pipeline was shut down, isolated and depressurized same day, to stop the flow of crude oil into it. We also secured the site for safety.

“On Wednesday, November 04, 2020, we commenced the containment and recovery of leaked crude and commenced the statutory government-led Joint Investigation Team (JIV) examination of the site to determine the cause and impact of the leak. The JIV and recovery of leaked crude are expected to be completed within the next one or two days.”

This seems to be a daily trend in Nigeria’s oil industry. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said in June 2019 that it had seen a 77 per cent jump in the number of cases of oil and fuel pipeline vandalism on its pipeline infrastructure.

According to some reports quoting SPDC, as many as 106 pipeline points were breached in June, 2019, up from 60 breaches on NNPC’s pipeline network in May.

The company had disclosed in its Monthly Financial and Operations Report (MFOR) of May 2019 that the vandalism was a serious menace to the industry.  .

“In spite of the wanton breaches of its critical pipeline network during the period, the corporation ensured continuous fuel supply and effective distribution across the country,” NNPC had said in a statement.

Insufficient pipeline safety has been one of the key drawbacks of Nigeria’s oil sector in recent years.

NNPC said it was trying to clamp down on vandalism and had teamed up with a state security company to improve the safety of oil pipelines.

SPDC has just disclosed what it does whenever spill occurs. “Whenever a leak is reported at any facility of The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Joint Venture, the immediate interest of SPDC as the operator is to isolate the injecting facility, stop the leak, conduct the statutory JIV, and clean up the spill. Where required, we begin immediate remediation in order to return the area to a pristine state.”

It was gathered that most oil bunkerers spend heavily at Christmas and the lull in activities over the past months of pandemic may have reduced their income levels, requiring a spike in operations to raise revenue.