Dutch oil giant, Shell is in the middle of a recent discovery of illegal oil connection terminal on the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) in the Nonwa Uedume community of Tai local government area, Rivers state.
The discovery, which was made public by the chairman of the local council, Mr. Mbakpone Okpe, was made possible via tip-off by locals.
The Council boss, accompanied by the Army, the Navy, the SSS and other security operatives, led a team of media personnel to inspect the site of the crude oil theft.
Speaking to journalists at the site, Mr Okpe said the illegal connection was discovered following a tip-off and called for collaboration between his team and the government.
“This discovery cost me money to get the information and this access. That does not mean that Shell does not have operators that are doing surveillance for them.
“The federal government also has companies doing surveillance for them. I need to partner with them. I called Shell after I discovered this on their line.
“I wish they would come so that we can jointly collaborate to clamp down on it. It is not only discovering it but also closing it so that it doesn’t recur. Since then, Shell has not come. It is part of the problem I have been having with them,” Mr Okpe said.
The local government chairman said the discovery is just a pint from the volume of oil theft operations going on in some of the communities around the area.
He blamed Shell, owners of the facility for looking the other way while the stealing is going on. “I cannot risk my resources and my personnel in discovering this, (and) at the end of the day the owners are not coming forward to take responsibility,” he said.
“This thing you are seeing happening here if anybody tells you that the larger number of the population here are not aware of it, it is a lie.
“If you go beyond here to the far end, you will see another spot like this. So, how are we responding to it to ensure that people who are doing this thing will know that there are owners and the owners are protecting their property?”
In a reaction, however, Shell said a joint investigation team led by the industry regulator had been sent to visit the illegal connection site for investigation and the company awaits the report.
Abimbola Essien-Nelson, media relations manager at Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), told the TheCable that “The illegal connection point on the SPDC joint venture pipeline is also undergoing repairs,” she said.
According to her, the SPDC seeks the support of stakeholders including community people to report any illegal activities around SPDC joint venture oil installations to SPDC or relevant government agencies.
By Bosco Agba