Nigeria Oil Thieves Keep a Lid on Output Even as Bombs Abate

The Agbada 2 flow station should have been buzzing with activity, pumping crude to one of Nigeria’s largest export terminals. Instead it was idle in the muggy, midmorning heat as Wilcox Emmanuel, the facility’s manager, shrugged in resignation about the thieves who’d shut him down.

The Agbada oil flow station, operated by Shell in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Credit: George Osodi/Bloomberg.

 

As much as 30% of the oil sent by pipelines through the swampy Niger River delta is stolen, consultant Wood Mackenzie estimates. That’s depriving the country of income amid a crippling recession and compounding the pain of a global price slump for Africa’s largest producer.

At Agbada, the wells dotting the surrounding forests had been closed for three weeks following a pipeline leak that was probably deliberate. “Who knows when we’ll be back up?” Emmanuel said.

The 60,000-BOPD flow station, owned by Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian unit and idle for most of June, illustrates the nation’s struggle to restore deliveries of its most vital resource. Even after the government quelled a militant uprising that sent production to a 30-year low last August, smaller-scale sabotage caused by people trying to steal oil remains rife.

Companies are using surveillance helicopters equipped with infrared cameras every day. They’re also experimenting with drones and cages on wellheads rigged with alarms. But nothing seems to fix the problem.

“We’re trying all sorts of things, you wouldn’t believe it,” Igo Weli, a manager at Shell, said in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil capital. “But how do you protect thousands of kilometers of pipelines against people who are out to sabotage them?”

Read the full story here


SUBSCRIBE

Don't miss the latest content delivered to your inbox. Emails are sent twice per month.

UPCOMING HSE EVENTS

 

 

HSE Now is a source for news and technical information affecting the health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility discipline of the upstream oil and gas industry.