Barely two months after Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) completed the sale of the $1.1 billion Nembe Creek Trunkline (NCTL) to Aiteo-led consortium, Shell has shut down the facility due to vandalism.
The NCTL and the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) are the company’s two major pipelines in Eastern Niger Delta that transport crude oil from the company and third parties to the Bonny Export Terminal in Rivers State.
Specifically, the NCTL transports Bonny Light from 14 oil pumping stations across the Nembe Creek in Bayelsa State, through Krakama, Awoba, Ekulama and San Bartholomew oil fields and transport it to the Cawthorne Channel field and Shell’s Bonny Export Terminal for removal of water and subsequent exports.
Exactly three years after replacing the NCTL with a new line at a cost of $1.1billion, as a result of persistent attacks by oil thieves, Shell had in November 2014, sold the pipeline and Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 to Aiteo Consortium.
THISDAY however gathered that Shell had not handed over the operation of the assets to the new buyers.
Shell’s Media Relations Manager, Mr. Precious Okolobo, confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that the pipeline had been shut down due to a leak on the facility.
“The Nembe Creek Trunkline (NCTL) was shut on January 17 because of a leak; an investigation visit is being planned to determine the cause. SPDC JV is also planning to remove five crude oil theft connections on the line,” he said.
THISDAY gathered that the replacement of the pipeline in 2010/2011 was the largest single project under the SPDC’s asset integrity programme that led to the replacement of over 1,000 kilometres of major pipelines and flowlines within eight years.
NCTL consists of 5kilometres of 12- inch diameter pipeline from the Nembe Creek III manifold to the Nembe Creek tie-in manifold; 44 km of 24- inch diameter pipeline from Nembe Creek to San Bartholomew, and 46 km of 30 inch diameter pipeline from San Bartholomew to Cawthorne Channel.
Nestoil constructed 49 km of the pipeline, consisting of the 12 inch diameter, 5 km segment and the 24 inch diameter, 44 km segment. This section, it was learnt, transverses across 100 communities in both Bayelsa and Rivers States.
The second part of the project consisting of 46 km, 30 inch diameter pipeline from San Bartholomew to Cawthorne Channel was executed by Italian oil field services contractor, Saipem.
A few months after the new NCTL was installed, the line was shut down for one month in December 2011, following a spill caused by two failed bunkering connections but the thieves used the one-month pipeline ‘depressurisation’ as a window to install even more bunkering points.
In fact, a total of 160 crude oil theft points were repaired on the NCTL between January and September 2013 alone, prompting the outgoing Managing Director of SPDC and Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, to declare that his company was “dealing with a social tragedy, an environmental crisis and a sad waste of resources.”