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Nigeria: Pipeline Vandalisation May Derail Power Emergency, Says Shell

Pipeline Vandalisation May Derail Power Emergency, Says Shell

From Ahamefula Ogbu in Port Harcourt, 07.05.2008 

The state of emergency which President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is planning to declare in the power sector may not bring about the desired result except the Federal Government finds a lasting solution to the spate of gas pipelines vandalisation in the Niger Delta. 

The alarm was raised yesterday by the Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) Head of Pipelines (East), Mr. Godwin Idoko during an interactive session with newsmen in Port Harcourt.

As part of efforts to increase power generation in the country, considerable resources will have to be spent in the development of gas infrastructure and pipelines that will supply gas to the thermal power stations. If this is hampered, the nation’s power problems will continue to persist.

Idoko noted that the combined activities of land speculators that encroach on pipelines’ right of way and vandals endanger not only the power sector but also the region. 

Idoko described the situation as “an accident waiting to happen,” pointing out that even the new power plants planned by the government are gas fired.

“Unless the pipelines are secured, the plants would be starved of gas through vandalisation. If this trend continues, it also means that gas pipelines that will be installed will be endangered and that means that we have to put in an effective framework to ensure that we don’t have encroachment, otherwise even the independent power projects will be threatened.

“It is one thing to install the plants, but what makes the plants profitable or able to generate power is the gas that runs it, that drives it. And you must be able to get this gas to those power plants,” he noted 
While admitting that poverty and lack of development have engendered the spate of vandalistaion, he canvassed for a situation whereby assistance would be made available to people living in the creeks as it would discourage vandalisation. 

He decried the level of poverty of communities in the creeks, pointing out that they should, like other Nigerians, have access to the good things of life, adding that it was for the government to provide them with utilities.

The company said it has over 75,000 kilometers of pipelines that run across 600 communities but regretted that at places like Oyigbo and Rumuodumaya, there has been encroachment. He said in Etelebou, a water factory was built on SPDC’s pipelines’ right of way.

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