The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has signed a contract to acquire drones to monitor its pipelines and wellheads in the Niger Delta.
SPDC’s director general of external relations, Igo Weli, made the point during a press conference in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
He said the company decided to acquire drones due to frequent attacks on its pipelines, resulting in huge revenue losses due to the activities of oil thieves and pipeline vandals.
According to him, the oil thieves breached the SPDC’s pipelines and wellheads, then redirected the crude oil to their illegal refining sites, depriving the company of needed revenue.
“To this end, we have signed a contract and will soon start using drones to monitor our pipelines, wellheads and other facilities.
“Shell does so much to protect its assets in Nigeria,” he said.
Weli said frequent attacks on its oil and gas facilities by organized criminals had worsened over the years, forcing the company to spend huge funds to protect its facilities.
“Some of the other amazing things we do as a company are flying helicopters every day to check the pipelines, which is very expensive for the company.
“Even when we see illegal refineries, we can’t do much other than draw the authorities’ attention to it.
“The SPDC builds cages and installs technology to protect its wellheads – just as we install burglary protections in our homes to keep thieves away.
“It is worrying and should be of concern to everyone, knowing that oil and gas are the sectors where the country generates huge currencies and creates jobs for millions of people,” he added.
SPDC’s chief executive said the company also collaborates with security agencies by sharing data on the locations and activities of illegal bunkers and refinery sites.
He said the purpose of sharing the data was to ensure the threat was resolved, to improve the business and working environment.
Weli said governments at the state and federal levels had done their best to deal with the threat, but more needed to be done to end the threat.
“That’s why we’ve been talking about it for years and went so far as to open an oil spill website in 2011.”
When the company reopened the Trans Niger pipeline shutdown in March, Weli said the company would only reopen the pipeline when the facility was secured from attack.