Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria Ltd. (SPDC) said it has repaired the valve point and removed six other theft connections in efforts to operate the Trans Niger Pipeline safely despite sabotage and oil theft activities that led to a June fire and explosion on the system.
A joint investigation team including regulators and SPDC representatives determined the incident resulted from unknown persons installing a valve to steal oil from the line. SPDC said it responded quickly to a theft spill on June 10 and an explosion and fire on June 19.
Mutiu Sunmonu, SPDC managing director and Shell Nigerian country chairman, said, "Suggestions that we reacted slowly to the fire and spill are false." He also said "actions taken at Bodo West were in the best interest of lives and the environment."
Shell has dismissed suggestions that TNP is unsafe to operate, saying the main cause of failures on TNP has been third-party damage related to sabotage and theft. In 3 years, 25 leaks have been reported, and 23 of those stemmed from sabotage with two being operational pinhole leaks, SPDC said in a July 5 news release.
SPDC is a joint venture of Shell, Nigeria National Petroleum Corp., and subsidiaries of Total SA and Eni SPA. The TNP system has a capacity of 150,000 b/d.
In a report on the Royal Dutch Shell PLC web site, Shell said the incident released 2,699 bbl of oil although most of the spilled oil was burned in a subsequent fire. Shell reported 400 bbl was recovered, and the cleanup of an area showing residual effects of the spill is slated to be completed by December.
Nigeria’s Niger Delta is known for oil spills, both as a result of aging infrastructure and frequent theft attempts to siphon oil from pipelines.
In June, SPDC said it would spend $1.5 billion to build a pipeline that will bypass a section of TNP where theft attempts are common (OGJ Online, June 23, 2013).