Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image

UPI Energy Watch: Analysis: Nigeria pipeline fires draw ire

 Published: July 19, 2007 at 10:58 AM 
UPI Energy Correspondent

A Nigerian activist is calling for Royal Dutch Shell to shut one of its pipelines, saying the company has done little to control the fires burning along it for the last several weeks.

The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People — a local activist group — said fires have burned along the line since June and are threatening several communities in the Niger Delta, home to the country’s multibillion-dollar oil and gas industries.

A spokesman for Shell in Nigeria said the company was trying to address the problem, but blamed residents of some communities affected by the fires. He said the fires had been caused because the company had not been allowed to fix leaks until local residents received financial compensation.

Representatives of the activist group on Tuesday denied Shell’s accusation and blamed the company for not acting quickly enough.

In an apparent effort to crackdown on the practice, a Nigerian task force and security officials from Shell reportedly arrested several vandals accused of tapping into pipelines early Wednesday in several delta locations.

Militant and criminal groups are often blamed for illegally tapping into pipelines in the delta and stealing oil and gas for personal use and resale on the black market. A chronic electricity shortage in the energy-rich West African country has forced many Nigerian to rely on generator power. Those who can’t afford to pay premium prices for fuel often turn to the black market for sharply discounted gas.

Many Nigerians blame former President Olesegun Obasanjo for the country’s electric woes saying the professed efforts to improve Nigeria’s energy output were merely false promises to cover up eight years of graft.

“For eight years, the Obasanjo administration, despite promises, merely nibbled at the issue of electricity generation so much that despite the billions of Naira (Nigeria’s local currency) poured into the sector, Nigerians are yet to start enjoying regular electricity supply,” read an editorial Wednesday in leading Nigerian newspaper This Day.

“But achieving result in this all important sector must go beyond mere proclamations,” the editorial read.

Since the 1970s, Africa’s No.1 oil producer — which produces some 2 million barrels a day — has pumped more than $300 billion worth of crude from the southern Niger Delta states, according to estimates. Despite the oil-export boom, most residents of Nigeria’s resource-rich south live in poverty, which has given rise to armed militant, criminal and even cult groups that have curtailed oil production by up to 25 percent over the last year.

Meanwhile, this isn’t the first time that Shell — the largest foreign company operating in Nigeria — has come under fire for its practices.

In March, Nigerian energy officials accused Shell and other foreign petroleum firms of violating Nigeria’s Nuclear Safety and Radiation Law by transporting radioactive material from Port Harcourt in the southern state of Rivers to a neighboring state without federal authorization. Since then, allegations of illegal dumping of the material have also surfaced.

Shell officials denied all counts against them, though they did acknowledge some equipment for drilling being transported through the region using radioactive material had gone missing and that the company was making a “concerted effort to trace the alleged missing tools.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency — the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog for the United Nations — speculated that the radioactive material transported by the companies was being used for well logging, a process whereby radioactive material is lowered into an exploratory well to test for hydrocarbons.

Well logging is a common practice the world over and the radioactive material used is not considered dangerous in comparison to the weapons-grade nuclear material used for creating atomic weapons.

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.