Revealed: Shell reduces operational spill by 47% in Niger Delta – Report

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By Abdallah el-Kurebe 

The Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC JV, says it reduced operational spills in the Niger Delta, to their lowest levels as well as significantly reduced breaches from wellheads and cleaned up more spill sites in 2019.

According to an annual review, published in the Nigerian Briefing Notes (available on its website, SPDC JV reported seven operational spills in 2019, which is “a 46.6 percent decrease over the previous year (when it recorded 15 such spills).

The data showed that in 2019, theft and sabotage resulted in 156 spills, against 109 recorded in 2018. 

“The SPDC JV has a policy that when a leak is identified, the team responds to contain any spilled oil and clean up. In 2019, SPDC JV remediated 130 sites. 

“The SPDC JV is working to eliminate spills from its operational activities, remediate past spills and prevent spills caused by crude oil theft, sabotage of pipelines or illegal oil refining,” the report reveals. 

The reported noted that illegal activities continue to inhibit a normal operating environment, in spite of the fact that SPDC operates to the same technical standards as other Shell companies globally. 

“Past spills from operational and illegal activities have been well documented, resulting in a clean-up programme and, where appropriate, compensation.There is still much work to do to get the company to its target of Goal Zero in all spills (operational and third-party vandalism). 

“But through a solid strategy, active partnerships, closer community engagements, bold security and new surveillance equipment, the company is steadily making good progress,” the report further states. 

It further emphasized Shell’s global ambition of achieving Goal Zero across all its operations, “to reduce the number of operational spills in Nigeria. 

“The SPDC JV is focused on implementing its ongoing work programme to appraise, maintain and replace key sections of pipelines and flow lines. In 2019, SPDC completed another 30 kilometres of new pipelines, bringing the total laid over the last eight years to around 1,330 kilometers.”

The report said that SPDC’s efforts had reduced operational spills over 100 kilograms to seven incidents and 28 tonnes of crude in 2019, compared to 15 incidents and 413 tonnes in 2018. 

“This represents a year-on-year reduction of more than 90% by volume, returning the joint venture to its trend of reducing operational spills. 

“Community engagement and the ongoing commitment from government agencies has also helped shorten response times to incidents. SPDC’s average time to complete the clean-up of free and/or residual spilled oil has halved from 13 days in 2016 to seven days in 2019. 

Although “Closer engagement with communities has helped SPDC to access spill locations more quickly, meaning on average that joint investigations now commence within three days in 2019 compared to six days in 2016,” the report states, “the challenge of preventing spills relating to sabotage and theft by third parties remains. These illegal activities accounted for 95% of the SPDC JV spill incidents in 2019, a similar proportion to previous years.” 

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