The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has announced plans to acquire drones for monitoring its pipelines and wellheads in the Niger Delta region.

“To this end, we have signed a contract, and soon we will start using drones to monitor our pipelines, wellheads and other facilities,” SPDC’s General Manager, External Relations, Igo Weli, stated at a news conference in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

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Shell is acquiring the drones to checkmate the frequent attacks on its pipelines and consequent revenue losses from activities of oil thieves and pipeline vandals.

He said oil thieves punctured SPDC pipelines and wellheads and redirected crude oil to their illegal refining sites; adding: “Shell does so much to protect its assets in Nigeria. Some of the other extraordinary things we do as a company is flying helicopters daily to check the pipelines that come at a huge cost to the company.”

According Weli, frequent attacks on Shell’s oil and gas facilities by organised criminals had worsened over the years, resulting in the company spending huge funds to protect its facilities.

He said the problem is an ‘all-stakeholders’ challenge and said Shell has been working with security agencies to address the issuers.

His words: “Even when we see illegal refineries, we cannot do much other than draw the attention of the authorities to it. The SPDC builds cages and installs technology to protect its wellheads – just like we put burglary proof in our homes to ward off robbers.

“This is worrisome and should concern everyone, understanding that the oil and gas sector is where the country generates huge forex and creates employment for millions.

“This is why we have been talking about this over the years and went as far as opening a website on oil spillage in 2011,” the general manager added.


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