March 5 - Royal Dutch Shell says it has done everything it can to stop thieves siphoning oil from its Nembe Creek pipeline, which produces 150,000 barrels per day, but may be forced to close it, as the military and others blame the oil giant for not doing more. Joel Flynn reports.
The Nembe Creek pipeline in Nigeria pumps around 150,000 barrels of crude oil a day. But Shell says it may close it. Alleged thefts from parts of the 97km line in the Niger Delta are costing Shell up to 60,000 barrels a day. Mutiu Sunomu is head of Shell's Nigerian subsidiary. SOUNDBITE: Shell Nigeria managing director, Mutiu Sunmonu, saying (English): "We do have surveillance guards who are constantly monitoring the line to inform us whenever there is any likely breach on the line. Government security agencies have been deployed by government to protect that line, as any other line. So we have a number of measures which are supposed to provide safeguards, but it will appear from what is happening recently, that these measures are just not sufficient." The pipeline was replaced in 2010 at a cost of 1.1 billion dollars and it's been repeatedly targeted by thieves ever since. They siphon off the crude and either refine it locally or export it. Government security forces say Shell don't do enough to prevent the thefts. SOUNDBITE: Spokesman for the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, Lieutenant Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, saying (English): "If they are going to shut down, it's not because JTF is not doing its job but because they have not been responsible enough to handle those breaches that we discovered and we have called their attention to it." Some security experts have suggested Nigerian officials could be complicit in the illegal trade. Shell says its main concern is the impact locally. SOUNDBITE: Shell Nigeria managing director, Mutiu Sunmonu, saying (English): "For us, at Shell, the real concern is the environment, not the bottom line. Of course, I would like to keep my oil in the pipeline, and make a decent return from it, but the situation that we are faced with now, we are putting the environment right at the front." Some in Nigeria feel the government and Shell are equally responsible. Ekiyor Korand is a lecturer at the Niger Delta University. SOUNDBITE: Niger Delta University Philosophy Lecturer, Ekiyor Korand, saying (English): "Shell have come under a lot of international condemnations all over the world, so what they are trying to do now is to stand, but they are co-conspirators. All of them are telling lies, they are bunch of lies and thieves and the Nigerian people must rise up and flush them away." Oil accounts for around 80% of Nigeria's revenue. Finding a way to end the thefts would benefit both sides in this dispute.