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The Nigerian army has destroyed one of the biggest illegal oil camps in the Niger Delta controlled and operated by oil thieves, local media report. The soldiers, according to the reports, destroyed 700 oil drums, 150 storage tanks, and some sixty boats.
Nigeria’s authorities are still fighting illicit oil trade with crude stolen from pipelines in the Delta, which has been the cause of many leaks and spills, although the local communities have blamed these on oilfield operators.
There were more than 12,000 spills in the Niger Delta between 1976 and 2014. More than half of these were caused by pipeline corrosion and tanker accidents. The rest were a result of mechanical error and sabotage, the Journal of Health and Pollution reported last year.
Oil companies have blamed most spills and pipeline leaks on sabotage and vandalism: cutting into pipelines to siphon fuel is not an uncommon practice in the Delta. It has in fact fueled a whole illicit refining industry in the region that the government has tried tackling in various ways, from violent shutdowns to, most recently, negotiations to bring the illegal refineries out from the shadow economy.
In 2017, according to Shell’s sustainability report released last year, oil theft resulted in losses of around 9,000 bpd , more than the 6,000 bpd lost in 2016, but less than the rate of 25,000-bpd loss in 2015.
“The increase in 2017 can in part be explained by the militant-induced shutdown of the Forcados export terminal in 2016, which reduced opportunities for third party interference,” Shell said in the report, released in April 2018.
This year, the authorities in the state of Bayelsa, in the Delta, set up a panel to investigate spills in the region in a bid to tighten control over oilfield operators, which the local communities still consider ultimately responsible for the accidents.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.