Shell Nigeria 'may shut down oil pipeline'
05 March 2013, 07:32
Abuja - Royal Dutch Shell may be forced to shut down
"completely" its 150 000 barrel per day Nembe Creek oil pipeline in
Nigeria due to persistent thefts, the company's local unit said on Monday.
The Nembe trunkline is one of the most important production
routes for Africa's top crude oil exporter, feeding the benchmark Bonny Light
export terminal. The pipeline was replaced in 2010 at a cost of $1.1bn, Shell
But criminal gangs tap into exposed pipelines in the winding
creeks and waterways in the Niger Delta. Some of the crude is refined locally
but the majority is transferred onto larger ships offshore and sold
Oil theft also has a devastating environmental impact,
destroying fishing communities and poisoning water used for drinking and
bathing in parts the Niger Delta.
Flowstations on the pipeline were shut down three times
between February 22 and February 25 due to thefts, with each incident deferring
150 000 bpd of production, Shell said in a statement.
"This is really getting to the crunch I must say,"
Shell Nigeria's managing director Mutiu Sunmonu said in a statement.
"It is getting to the crunch that rather than allow
people to continue to attack my pipeline and devastate the environment, I may
actually consider shutting in the pipeline completely.
"...The situation in the last few weeks is
unprecedented. The volume being stolen is the highest in the last three years;
over 60 000 bpd from Shell alone," he said
Nigerian Oil Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke said last month
that the thefts were the work of international crime syndicates and she has
requested help from Britain to tackle the problem.
Security experts say they believe Nigerian officials must be
complicit in the business considering the scale of theft, which some oil
companies have estimated at around 150 000 bpd across the whole of the