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Shell to deploy drones for pipeline protection

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Shell to deploy drones as oil theft escalates in Niger Delta

By Jeph Ajobaju, Chief Copy Editor

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Shell has announced plans to acquire drones to protect its pipelines in the Niger Delta from oil theft as the country foot drags in tackling a menace that cost the treasury $1 billion in the first quarter ended March (Q1 2022) and mounting.

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) External Relations General Manager Igo Weli made the announcement in Port Harcourt, saying the firm also builds cages and installs technology to protect its wellheads.

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“Oil thieves punctured SPDC pipelines and wellheads, and thereafter, redirected crude oil to their illegal refining sites.

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“To this end, we have signed a contract, and soon we will start using drones to monitor our pipelines, wellheads and other facilities. Shell does so much to protect its assets in Nigeria.”

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Huge security costs

Weli said attacks on oil and gas facilities by organised criminals has grown worse over the years, forcing Shell to spend huge funds to protect its facilities, including flying helicopters daily to check pipelines.

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“Even when we see illegal refineries, we cannot do much other than draw the attention of the authorities to them,” he added, as quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and reported by Nairametrics.

“The SPDC builds cages and installs technology to protect its wellheads – just like we put burglary proof in our homes to ward off robbers.

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“This is worrisome and should be of concern to everyone, understanding that oil and gas is where the country generates huge forex and creates employment for millions.”

Weli added that Shell is also collaborating with security agencies through sharing  data on the locations and activities of illegal bunkerers and refining sites.

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Backstory

  • Nigeria lost $1 billion to oil theft in Q1 2022, according to Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) Chief Executive Gbenga Komolafe.
  • Only about 132 million barrels of 141 million barrels produced in Q1 2022 were received at export terminals.
  • Chevron Nigeria/Mid Africa Business Unit Managing Director Richard Kennedy reiterated in July that crude oil theft in Nigeria is an organised crime completely different from host community issues.
  • He said oil theft costs Nigeria millions of dollars daily which could have been used to tackle fiscal challenges.
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