While the Nigerian government is dreaming zero flaring, Shell has on the other hand increased flaring by 10 per cent as at 2019. It also increased oil spillage.
But Shell said, the spills are predominantly a result of sabotage. Of the 164 spills of more than 100 kg of crude, 95 per cent were the result of “illegal activities by third parties”, it said.
The company argued that the number of spills caused as a result of its own operational issues fell to seven incidents, from 15 in 2018. This saw the volume of crude spilled fall to around 30 tonnes of crude, from 400 tonnes in 2018. Where there have been operational spills, SPDC pays compensation to people and communities.
Shell’s onshore work is handled via its Shell Petroleum Development Co. (SPDC) unit, which works to clean up all spills from its facilities. This unit has improved its response time to around seven days in 2019, from 13 in 2016.
The company has replaced 1,330 km of pipelines and flow lines over the last eight years, it said, in an effort to reduce operational spills. The company’s integrity management system was enhanced in 2018, it said, to “manage threats arising from frequent pipeline sabotage or vandalism”.
During 2019, SPDC carried out surveillance of its areas and networks, carrying out daily overflights of vulnerable pipeline sections. It has also installed additional equipment in an attempt to deter thieves, for instance putting steel cages on wellheads.
The company does sometimes struggle to gain access to sites. SPDC signed a deal with the Bodo community in 2015 to clear up spills from 2008 but this was delayed in 2016 and most of 2017 because of “access challenges”. Work finally began in September 2017, with the first phase concluded in August 2018 and mobilisation of the next phase to begin in 2020.