Stop being cosmetic, fix oil pipelines, rights group tells Shell
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has described Shell Petroleum Development Company’s (SPDC) claim of deploying aerial cameras to track oil spills as a plot to distract Nigerians from their demand on the firm to fix its pipelines as a measure to check pollution in the Niger Delta.
The oil major’s General Manager, External Relations, Igo Weli, was quoted on Monday at a workshop in Warri to have said that the Dutch firm had deployed state-of-the-art high definition cameras for quick detection of and response to spills from its facilities.
The equipment, he added, would assist in tracking vandalism of Shell joint venture assets.He had equally said the company was collaborating with community leaders, monarchs, civil society groups and state governments in the region to implement several initiatives and raise awareness on the negative impact of crude oil theft and illegal refining on the economy and environment.
But in a statement yesterday, the rights group described the claim as a “mere spin intended to divert attention from the company’s unwillingness to address its old and leaky pipes and other infrastructure across the Niger Delta.”ERA/FoEN’s Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, said: “We are petrified that at a time the people of the Niger Delta and the world are clamouring for Shell’s leaky pipelines that criss-cross communities to be replaced, the company is talking of aerial detection of what every eye can see.”He pointed out that daily helicopter flights cannot be a solution to the corrosive pipelines that were leaking oil due to equipment failure.
“We also observe the misleading figures of oil stolen, including bunkering, which Shell puts at about 11,000 barrels even when we believe the figure is over 400,000 barrels,” Ojo added.
The ERA/FoEN boss stressed that the surveillance would be more effective with real-time radio frequency technologies already in use globally, adding: “Shell knows the way to go is to ensure that its pipelines are adequately protected, encased in concrete and buried at levels where malevolent third parties cannot easily tamper with them.”