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SPDC suspends production in Imo River Field due to illegal bunkering spills

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) has shut in production from Imo River Field due to a recent upsurge of illegal bunkering and refining activities which have impacted the environment. Some 25,000 barrels of oil per day is affected. The company took the action on the 28th of August this year to starve the illegal bunkerers of crude oil in order to prevent further environmental pollution.

Imo River Field straddles Abia and Rivers states and has five flow stations, a gas compressor station and several kilometres of pipelines among other faculties. Illegal bunkering activities were first noticed two years ago, prompting government security forces to move into the area, dislodging the perpetrators and destroying barges and canoes. But the criminal act has now resumed, with crude thieves inflicting hacksaw cuts on pipelines to siphon crude to waiting barges and canoes, some of which can hold as much as 40,000 barrels.

SPDC engaged local and state government officials including legislators and the Department of Petroleum Resources on the issue. In August this year, more than 500 community people attended a seminar on the dangers of illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism.

Commenting, the Vice President HSE and Corporate Affairs, Tony Attah, said: “The scale of crude theft is unprecedented. Within September alone, we discovered some 16 illegal bunkering points within Imo River Field. Besides the money lost to government, significant portion of the stolen volumes are spilled affecting large swaths of land. This is why production from this field will remain shut until we are sure that the crude thieves have left the area for good.”