News / Africa

Shell to Shut Down Major Pipeline in Nigeria

A warning sign belonging to the company Royal Dutch Shell is seen along the Nembe creek in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, December 2, 2012 file photo.
A warning sign belonging to the company Royal Dutch Shell is seen along the Nembe creek in Nigeria's oil state of Bayelsa, December 2, 2012 file photo.
Heather Murdock
Shell Nigeria, one of the largest oil companies in the Niger Delta, is planning to shut down one of the most important pipelines in the country because of 'unprecedented' levels of oil theft this year.  Observers say repairing the damaged pipeline will not fix the problem.

Shutting down a 150,000 barrel a day oil pipeline is a big deal but Shell Petroleum Development Company in Nigeria says it has no choice. It says it has to shut down the Nembe Creek Trunkline, a major oil export pipe, to repair holes drilled by oil thieves.  Shell declined to say when it expects the pipeline to re-open.

Security forces say they are successfully combating oil thieves but Shell says sabotage has increased dramatically this year.

Joseph Adheke, an oil worker, says people are buying, selling and transporting illegal oil in plain sight on the Niger Delta creeks.

"A barge that would take three hours to cover a journey of just a mile or two: How come they could not be arrested?  How come they can carry crude and escape the watchful eyes of this surveillance, the military and the rest of them," he said.

Isitoah Ozoemene, a political science lecturer at the State College of Education in Warri, a Niger Delta oil town, says it is possible that both Shell and security forces are correct: oil theft is increasing and security forces are catching more thieves.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil exporter, shipping about 2.5 million barrels of oil a day.  Nigerians in the Niger Delta have long complained all they get for their land’s oil wealth are massive oil spills.

Ozoemene says the reason oil theft persists is largely systematic. The main beneficiaries of oil theft, known as "illegal bunkerers" are wealthy "big men" but they could not do it without unemployed young people frustrated by abject poverty in a region awash with oil wealth.

"Bunkerers are able to do this because there are a lot of young people who are frustrated with the system are ready to work with them for their own benefit," said Ozoemene.

The answer, he says, is not to stop local people from making money from oil, but to find a way to make it legal.

"But if the system accommodates them and makes them a stakeholder or if government policies acknowledge that these resources belong to this area and they can exploit them and pay taxes to the government these so called big-time bunkers would not succeed," he said.

He also says it is possible that security forces, known as the Joint Task Force, or JTF, have a hard time stopping saboteurs because individual officers look the other way.

"You may also have a very corrupt regime.  For instance, JTF is made up of very lowly paid military officers.  Everybody wants to cash in on the oil wealth so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an issue of corruption there," he said.

Other observers say even if there is no corruption at all among security forces, it is still impossible for them to stop oil thieves. 

Jackson Timiyan, a community leader in oil-rich Gbaramatu Kingdom, says the answer is not to let the people steal oil, but to pay them to police the pipelines.

"They are more familiar with the terrain," he said. "They know who can perpetrate these acts.  If the act is perpetrated they know where the act can take place.  Not somebody that doesn’t know the terrain.  You can take the entire Nigerian army into the creeks.  That would not curtail illegal bunkering and crude oil theft."

Between 2003 and 2008 there was an insurgency in the Niger Delta, with militants attacking the oil companies and the government.  The all-out war quieted in 2009, with former militants basically being paid not to fight.  However, instability in the region remains and the people say their grievances have never been addressed.

Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid