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Monday, 15 October 2012 00:00
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Shell begins repair of Bomu-Bonny trunkline

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), operator of NNPC/Shell Joint venture, has commenced the repair of the 28-inch Bomu-Bonny Trunkline in Rivers State, after it was shut due to a pipeline fire caused by vandals.

Shell shut down the pipeline, deferring 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day, after discovering a fire on the pipeline in the early morning hours of September 30, 2012.

A Shell Nigeria's spokesman confirmed that repairs had commenced after a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) to the site but declined to disclose the cost of the repairs.

He said: “We commenced fixing the pipeline after the joint inspection team concluded their assignment. The JIV was conducted by officials of the company and the regulatory agencies; representatives of the community as well as local and state government officials.”

A burning vessel, believed to be involved in the theft of crude oil from the line, was sighted near the incident site, close to Okololunch community in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State, which is under the company's Eastern Niger Delta operation.

Shell Nigeria's Corporate Media Relations Manager, Mr. Tony Okonedo, had confirmed immediately after the incident that production of 150,000 barrels of oil per day was affected in the shut-down of the pipeline, which conveys crude oil to Bonny Export Terminal for shipment.

Shell's Vice President for Health, Safety, Environment and Corporate Affairs in Sub-Saharan Africa, Mr. Tony Attah said helicopter overfly showed the vessel engulfed in raging flames and thick smoke.

Attah said: This incident clearly demonstrates the scale of the oil theft problem which, alongside the hundreds of illegal refineries in the Delta, is having such a profound effect on the people, communities and the environment. Until these activities are brought to a halt there will be no improvement in the environmental situation.”

He further stated that the oil company was mobilising to fight the fire, investigate the cause and carry out repairs.

He noted that the Bomu - Bonny trunkline was part of the Trans Niger Pipeline, which itself had been repeatedly targeted by crude oil thieves.

According to the company, last year, sabotage and crude oil theft were also the cause of 11,806 barrels spilled from SPDC facilities in 118 incidents. 

This meant an average of one spill every three days, accounting for 77 per cent of the total spilled volume during the period.  

Shell has consistently maintained that the great majority of spills in the Niger Delta are the result of third party interference, mainly sabotage, theft of equipment or leaks caused by crude oil thieves drilling into pipelines or opening up wellheads to steal oil.

The company said that on average, such third party interference had accounted for 74 per cent of all oil spill incidents and 73 per cent of all oil volume spilled from its facilities between 2007 and 2011.

It however noted that the rest of the volume was caused by operational failures, such as equipment failure and human error, adding that any spill is a serious concern to the company.