The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) has shut down the Imo River Trunkline in its Eastern operations after it found several crude theft points on the facility. Production of some 25,000 barrels of oil per day is deferred.
SPDC had shut in the producing stations and isolated the line on 31st October on discovering the first set of leaking points, but an additional leak from the remaining oil in the pipeline occurred about eight days later, when unknown persons installed more crude theft connections, some of which have failed. Some six crude theft points have so far been confirmed on the 12-inch trunkline, of which three have been repaired. There have been 26 spills in the Imo River area so far this year; 25 have been due to sabotage, spilling nearly 3000 barrels into the environment.
Shell’s Vice President for HSE & Corporate Affairs, Sub-Saharan Africa, Tony Attah said: “Ground visits showed that the oil had impacted rivers and other water bodies even as we have managed to deploy containment booms and are now starting to recover spilled crude. The evidence is clear for all to see, that crude theft is bad for Nigeria, bad for the people, bad for the environment and bad for our business.”
Imo River Trunkline is part of the Trans Niger Pipeline which suffered a similar fate at Mogho when unknown persons installed two crude theft valves today (11th November), barely 24 hours after the last of such leaks was repaired at Biara, also in Ogoni land. The two crude theft valves have been closed and the line is being reopened.
The largest number of spills in Imo River this year occurred in May and August, with six incidents in each month. Five of the spill sites have been fully cleaned and certified while cleanup activities are ongoing in the rest.
SPDC shut down production in Imo River in August last year because of incessant crude theft activities, and only resumed operations many months later when the broken lines were repaired and conditions had improved.