Sabotage increases on Shell's crude oil pipelines in Nigeria

By Phaedra Friend Troy

Violence against Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A, NYSE:RDS-B) crude petroleum pipelines in Nigeria has escalated with three attacks on Shell pipelines in the first 12 days of August.

The major West African oil producer reported that sabotage of its oil pipelines has increased in the Niger Delta of Nigeria, keeping mum on if production has been affected, reported various media groups.

The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), a joint venture that operates its Nigerian business, has reported three violent events in August, so far. The incidents involve thieves drilling holes or hacking into Shell pipelines to siphon oil for sale or use.

With the most recent attack occurring on Aug. 12, the affected crude oil pipelines are located in the Cawthorne Channel, leading to Shell’s Bonny export terminal.

"In the latest incident, the investigating team discovered three hacksaw cuts on the Cawthorne Channel-Bonny pipeline,” said Babs Omotowa, Shell’s Africa VP of health and safety. “We have informed the relevant authorities of the incidents.”

Shell is working to repair the Cawthorne Channel pipeline and has set up containment booms to prevent the leaking oil from spreading.

"The environmental and social cost of widespread sabotage is simply unacceptable,” Omotowa told reporters. “Last year, 98 percent of the oil spilled from SPDC operations was caused by sabotage.”

Militant groups, including the most prominent group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), and thieves regularly attempt to disrupt oil production and development in the Niger Delta.

"It is our policy to clean up spills regardless of the cause,” Omotowa continued. "While we continue to contain and recover oil spilled from the Cawthorne Channel-Bonny pipeline and other facilities, our task is made more difficult if people insist on carrying out sabotage attacks and causing spills."



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