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africasia.com: Shell writes Nigerian parliament on Niger Delta

21/01/2008 16:10 LAGOS, Jan 21 (AFP)

Anglo-Dutch energy group Shell said Monday it has complained in a letter to the Nigerian parliament that the activities of oil thieves and vandals are hampering its operations in the country.

“The letter in question was to inform the Federal Legislature on the challenges posed to our operations by illegal bunkering and crude oil theft,” company spokeswoman Caroline Wittgen said.

“We remain concerned about the effects of these illegal activities on the Nigerian economy and appeal for concerted efforts to stop them,” she told AFP.

Wittgen did not go into detail on the contents of the letter, written by Shell’s managing director in Nigeria Basil Omiyi, which said Shell has lost millions of barrels of crude to thieves and vandals since 2003.

“Our records show that on the average, we lose to illegal bunkering activities some 60,000 barrels per day of oil in 2003, rising to about 80,000 per day in 2004, falling to 40,000 per day in 2005 and 20,000 in 2006,” the Guardian newspaper quoted the letter as saying.

Another Shell official said the letter was never supposed to have been made public.

Still according to the Guardian, the letter said virtually all Shell’s oil pipelines in the Niger Delta had been vandalised by oil thieves, causing spills in the environment.

“More importantly, these incidents, which are ongoing, at an alarming rate, are happening at a time when the fragile security situation in the Niger Delta is not allowing us guaranteed access to respond to, contain and clean up the resultant spills and pollution,” the firm said.

It regretted that the efforts of the federal and state governments to help it to check the menace had not yielded the desired results.

Last week, Shell declared force majeure on exports from its main Forcados export terminal in southern Nigeria because of a major damage to its supply pipelines.

Force majeure allows companies to suspend contractual obligations such as deliveries of oil and gas following unforseen events without incurring penalties.

©2008 AFP

http://www.africasia.com/services/news/newsitem.php?area=africa&item=080121161013.ziwon86r.php

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