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Shell counts five pipeline fires in Ogoni this year, begins repair

BUSINESSDAY (Nigeria)


Embattled Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) says it has just fought off the fifth pipeline fire in the troubled Ogoni axis of Rivers State from where it was forced to pull out about 15 years ago, leading to the cancellation of its oil bloc licences in the area. 
Now, SPDC said in 2008 alone, it has witnessed over five pipeline fires, believed to be caused by sabotage, even as the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) claims Shell’s obsolete equipment in the area were to blame for the oil fires. 
  To counter MOSOP, Shell has displayed photographs of evidence of sabotage, including hack-sawed pipes and trenches dug deep to gain access to the pipes.   Precious Okolobo, SPDC’s head of media, said in an e-mail statement sent to Business Day that the SPDC joint ventures had endeavored to repair two damaged sections of the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) at K-Dere and Bodo in Gokana local council area of (Ogoni) of Rivers State. 
  The statement made it clear that between March and August 2008, “unknown persons set off three separate fires on the line at K-Dere, which have now been extinguished. And we are working closely with the chairman of Gokana to effect repairs on the line.” 
Okolobo said in early October, SPDC mobilised its pipeline repair and spill response teams to deal with an oil spill on yet another line at Bodo. 
“This spill has been contained and repair plans are being firmed up. The incident occurred in a swampy area and access is only possible by specialised equipment.” SPDC often uses helicopters to reach very deep points in the creeks. 
“There have been five leaks on the TNP in this year alone in Gokana Local Government Area. It is SPDC’s policy to remediate oil spills as quickly and efficiently as possible, no matter what the cause. There is no suggestion that our contractors are conniving with people to cause these fires and leaks.”  
SPDC has pulled out of Ogoni and the rights reverted to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, but some of the company’s piplelines deliver crude through Ogoni axis to Bonny Island terminal for export. 
The Ogoni, through, MOSOP, continues to clamour for reparations from Shell. 
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