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For months Royal Dutch Shell has been pressuring the Nigerian government to crack down on oil thefts, which it estimates to cost the country 150,000 barrels of oil a day. Thieves attack pipelines and then syphon of as much oil as they can before disappearing. The damage to the pipes causes constant spills and fires, and repairs are not cheap.
Last week Shell’s Nigerian unit, Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria (SPDC) had to close its 150,000 barrel a day Trans Niger pipeline after an explosion in Bodo West.
Nigerian military authorities have just announced that they have arrested eight people charged with involvement in the attack. It turns out that the perpetrators were under contract to Shell.
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Onyema Nwachukwu, a spokesman for the Military Joint Task Force, said that they “have arrested eight persons in connection with the recent fire outbreak on an SPDC pipeline. They will be handed over to an appropriate prosecuting agency if found culpable at the end of the investigations.”
The eight people were discovered on tug boats near to the pipeline. They worked for Steve Integrated Technical Service and Sege Marine, both companies that had been hired to fix the broken pipelines. Had they merely been trying to supply the demand for their own services?
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com