Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited has asked members of the public to stay away from oil and gas pipeline rights of way in order to avoid explosion that may occur due to more pressure in the pipelines.
The SPDC also expressed worry over the continued attack on its pipelines by oil thieves.
Speaking on Wednesday at a seminar on pipeline vandalism, health of the environment and the Niger Delta people in Port Harcourt, Shell’s Lead, Encroachment Management, Amechi Ucheoma, observed that some residents, who were supposed to stay 30 metres away from oil and gas pipelines, set up structures close to such facilities.
Ucheoma explained that although there were laws guiding the protection of pipelines, some people deliberately disobeyed such laws and put themselves and others at risk while building on or close to pipeline rights of way.
He said, “People ignorantly set up business structures close to pipeline rights of way. We are appealing to the media to help us sustain the campaign against encroachment against Shell facilities.
“We have in some places erected perimeter fences, used right of way markers, sensitised communities to the need to stay away from pipelines’ right of way and carried out surveillance through the use of local security contractors.
“Apart from the danger it poses to lives and property, encroachment on oil and gas pipeline rights of way is another form of economic sabotage, which adversely affects production.”
Shell’s Lead, Right of Way and Encroachment, John Okojie, observed that pipeline vandals had become more daring as they vandalised the company’s pipelines in broad daylight.
Okojie maintained that the activities of oil thieves in the Niger Delta were responsible for the ongoing environmental pollution, also known as soot, in the region, particularly in Port Harcourt and its environs.
He said, “You sleep in the night and inside that darkness is a lot of black smoke; this is as a result of the activities of oil thieves. Most of the pipeline leaks are as a result of interference by oil thieves and attacks on such property causes pollution, which endangers the health and lives of many, including the oil thieves.
“Every time a hack occurs, we shut down, plan for repairs, get the spill cleaned up, fix the pipe and then bring the area back to normalcy. We have had vandalism like hacksaw cuts, drilled holes and bomb blasts on our pipelines. The audacity of the oil thieves is something else.”