Shell in Nigeria has described the impact of the activities of crude oil thieves and illegal refineries on the Niger Delta environment and Nigerian economy as a crisis situation.
Mutiu Sunmonu, the Country Chairman, Shell Companies in Nigeria, made the remark at the Environmental and Reputation Management Stakeholders’ Workshop in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Thursday.
Sunmonu, also the Managing Director, Shell Petroleum Development Company, said that the 2013 theme: “The Niger Delta: Our Environment, Our Future,” was Shells’ commitment to environmental protection.
He said: “At some point, this year, over 60,000 barrels of crude was being stolen from SPDC lines every day; this is a difficult operating environment.
“The activities of illegal refineries are extremely damaging to the environment as significant proportion of the stolen crude used in the illegal refineries is disposed of in the environment.”
Sunmonu said that although SPDC applied the global environmental best practices in its response to oil spills, containment and clean-up of such spills, “no spill is acceptable”.
He added: “We continue to make improvements in our efforts to reduce our operational spills.
“These are spills within our control, which are caused by equipment failure, human error and corrosion.
“I hope that the workshop will discuss this situation in great detail and proffer multi-stakeholders but practical solution.”
Sunmonu, however, said that in 2012, SPDC awarded $2.4 billion in contracts to local companies, adding: “That’s $1 billion more than we did in 2011.”
Chief Tarila Tebepah, the Chairman, Niger Delta Development Commission, delivered a keynote address entitled: “Protecting the Niger Delta environment for a greater tomorrow: Shared management of the Niger Delta Environment for a new economy.”
Tebepah observed that rapid economic growth had led to pollution, unemployment, poverty, depletion of natural resource and loss of bio-diversity.
He also observed that the era of crude oil and gas had created a mono-cultural focus on Niger Delta.
Tebepah said rivers were greatly polluted by crude oil production, wastes from outboard engine boats, flood and domestic sewage from the area.
He, however, said that there should be an institution of a Niger Delta Environmental Management Programme to remediate, enrich and protect the environment with full participants of all the stakeholders.
Dr. Ngeri Benebo, the Director-General, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, said that the future of the Niger Delta was key to the continued prosperity of the nation.
Benebo said that this was because over 75 per cent of the nation’s earnings came from the region.
“It is, therefore, necessary to emphasise that we all have a collective responsibility towards ensuring that the rich economic potentials of the Niger Delta are harnessed sustainably with due regard to environmental considerations,” she said.