Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) has said it reduced operational spills to the lowest levels in 2019.
Records made available by SPDC show that only seven operational spills were reported in 2019, a 46.6 per cent decrease over the previous year, 2018, when the company recorded 15 operational spills.
The company also reported a significant reduction in breaches from wellhead, and clean-up of more spill sites than ever before, in 2019.
However, there was an increase in cases of theft and sabotage in 2019, according to records made available by the company.
SPDC said identified leaks were cleaned promptly, adding that it was working towards totally eliminating spills from its operations.
”The data available showed that in 2019, theft and sabotage resulted in 156 spills. In 2018, the figure was 109.
The SPDC JV has a policy that when a leak is identified, the team responds to contain any spilled oil and clean up. In 2019, SPDC JV remediated 130 sites.
“The SPDC JV is working to eliminate spills from its operational activities, remediate past spills and prevent spills caused by crude oil theft, sabotage of pipelines or illegal oil refining.
“While SPDC operates to the same technical standards as other Shell companies globally, illegal activities continue to inhibit a normal operating environment.
“Past spills from operational and illegal activities have been well documented, resulting in a clean-up programme and, where appropriate, compensation,” the company added.
SPDC, in the same vein, noted that there is still much work to do to get the company to its target of ‘Goal Zero’ in all spills, including those arising from operational and third-party vandalism.
“But through a solid strategy, active partnerships, closer community engagements, bold security and new surveillance equipment, the company is steadily making good progress,” the company said.
Specifically, SPDC said it has made progress in areas such as improving performance, preventing illegal activity, response and investigation, improving remediation and clean-up in Ogoniland.
SPDC disclosed that it was working with the relevant stakeholders to implement the 2011 United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report on Ogoniland.
According to the company, over the last eight years, it has taken action on all, and completed most, of the UNEP recommendations addressed specifically to it as operator of the joint venture.
The UNEP report recommended the creation of an Ogoni Trust Fund with $1 billion capital to be co-funded by the Nigerian government, the SPDC JV and other operators in the area.
Shedding further light on its role in the Ogoni clean-up programme, the company said, “The SPDC JV remains fully committed to contributing its share of $900 million over five years to the fund and made $10 million available in 2017 to help set up the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP), an agency established by the Federal Government to lead the clean-up effort.
“In 2018, the SPDC JV deposited a further $170 million into the escrow account to fund HYPREP’s activities, to complete its first-year contribution of $180 million.
“The SPDC JV in 2019 contributed the next tranche of $180 million. At the end of 2019, the total contribution made was $360 million which represents the full amount due for the two years.”
SPDC added that it has continued work with the Bodo community and others to clean up areas affected by two operational spills in 2008.
A memorandum of understanding granting SPDC access to begin the clean-up was signed in 2015 and two contractors were selected to conduct the clean-up, overseen by an independent project director.
The clean-up consists of three phases, namely removal of free phase surface oil, remediation of soil and planting of mangroves and monitoring.
“The removal of surface oil started in September 2017 and was completed in August 2018.
“Field remediation activities started in November 2019 following a contract procurement process to select remediation contractors. 800 community workers have been medically checked, assessed for their swimming ability to ensure they can safely respond to incidents in rivers and creeks, and trained to International Maritime Organisation oil spill response Levels one and two.
“Remediation is expected to take around 18 months. The clean-up will only be successful if the repeated re-contamination of cleaned-up sites from illegal third-party activity stops,” SPDC said.
The company also disclosed that, in line with UNEP recommendations, since 2011, it has re-assessed 15 SPDC JV sites mentioned in the UNEP report and remediated further where required with the sites certified by government regulators.
SPDC added that it has completed an inventory and physical verification of assets for decommissioning, and is currently working with joint venture partners and the Federal Government to develop a decommissioning plan for these assets.
According to the company, it has completed a comprehensive review of its oil spill response and remediation techniques and made a number of improvements in line with industry best practices, while also collaborating with the Rivers State government to deliver water to impacted communities and built water facilities, which are expected to be upgraded as part of HYPREP’s planned activities.
In the same vein, SPDC has trained contractors on clean-up and remediation techniques and assigned specialist supervisors to a number of project sites to ensure effective oversight and compliance.
The company also said it is continuing to carry out regular aerial monitoring of the JV’s facilities in Ogoniland, including the creeks and pipelines, to identify new incidents or activities, such as theft and sabotage, which may result in environmental damage.