The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has described Shell’s claim of deploying aerial cameras to track oil spills as a smokescreen aimed at distracting Nigerians from their demands that the corporation replace its old and ill-maintained oil pipelines that continue leaking and polluting communities in the Niger Delta.
Shell’s General Manager, Igo Weli, at a media workshop on Monday, September 16, 2019 in Warri, Delta State disclosed that the organisation had deployed state-of-the-art high definition cameras for quick detection of and response to crude oil spills from its facilities. The cameras, he said, would also help in tracking vandalism of SPDC joint venture assets.
Weli also said the corporation collaborates with community leaders, traditional rulers, civil society and state governments in the Niger Delta to implement several initiatives and partnerships to raise awareness on the negative impact of crude oil theft and illegal oil refining.
But, in a statement issued in Lagos on Wednesday, September 18 and made available to EnviroNews, ERA/FoEN described the claim as a “mere spin” intended to “divert attention from the corporation’s unwillingness to address its old and leaking pipes and other infrastructure across the Niger Delta”.
ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, said: “We are petrified that at a time the people of the Niger Delta and the world are clamoring for Shell’s leaking pipelines that criss-cross communities to be replaced, the company is talking of aerial detection of what every eye can see.”
Ojo pointed out that daily helicopter flights cannot be a solution to corrosive pipelines that is leaking oil due to equipment failure.
“We also observe the misleading figures of oil stolen including bunkering which Shell puts at about 11,000 barrels even when we believe the figure is over 400,000 barrels including oil bunkering.”
The ERA/FoEN boss stressed that the surveillance would be more effective with real time radio frequency technologies already in use globally, even as he added that “Shell knows the way to go is to ensure that its pipelines are adequately protected, encased in concrete and buried at levels where malevolent third parties cannot easily tamper with them.”
“We are not deceived by this media hype, neither do the impacted community people and the concerned global community. The Nigerian government must compel Shell to replace its pipelines, some as old as when it commenced reckless extraction in the Niger Delta in 1956. Nothing short of this is acceptable,” he insisted.