Shell records increase in oil spill in 2021 report

Oil spill in the Niger Delta

Energy giant, Shell, has recorded an increase in its oil spills by a factor of two, to 3.3 thousand tonnes from 1.5 thousand tonnes in 2020, according to the organization’s most recent sustainability report.

The company, in its 2021 sustainability report, said all sabotage and theft-related spills in 2021 occurred in Nigeria. The number of spills dropped to 106 in 2021, down from 122 in 2020, it noted.

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) manages a network of wells and pipelines across the Niger Delta and produces oil and gas through its SPDC joint venture (SPDC-operated, with Shell equity of 30 percent).

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According to the report, the overall number of operational spills in the Niger Delta has decreased dramatically over the last 11 years, from more than 60 in 2011 to 9 in 2021. Third-party involvement and other unlawful activities continue to be a concern for the SPDC JV, which is working to prevent spills.

It said, “With operational spills, SPDC pays compensation to affected people and communities. When a spill is caused by illegal activities, SPDC provides relief to the communities affected on a case-by-case basis.

“This relief can include food, health checks and clean water supply. In 2021, the time needed to complete the recovery of free-phase oil – oil that forms a separate layer and is not mixed with water or soil – was around six days,” the report noted.

Meanwhile, the company reported that by the end of 2021, a total of 283 wellhead cages had been built, with 62 of them being upgraded with closed-circuit television (CCTV). In comparison, by the end of 2020, there were 364 cages installed.

It said, “The year-on-year reduction of 81 cages was attributable to the 2021 divestment of the OML-17 licence. SPDC continues to review its portfolio options for onshore oil in Nigeria. In the last decade, SPDC has reduced its licences in this area by half.

“The JV has increased security and surveillance and implemented several local initiatives to address the underlying causes and raise awareness of the damage caused by sabotage and theft. Regardless of the cause of a spill, the SPDC JV cleans up and remediates areas affected by spills originating from its facilities.”