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Thieves in Nigeria’s southern delta are targeting Royal Dutch Shell’s crude oil pipelines, including at least three incidents of sabotage this month alone, company officials said.
In a statement, Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary said damaged pipelines near Bonny in Rivers state bore signs of drilled holes and hacksaw cuts. Officials said the damage shows thieves had likely tapped into the lines to siphon off crude oil to sell on the black market.
The Shell subsidiary did not give an estimate of how much crude oil it had lost in the incidents, though it acknowledged the damaged pipelines had leaked crude oil into the environment. The statement said the company put containment booms into the surrounding waterways to stop the oil flow and hired a contractor to begin a cleanup.
”The environmental and social cost of widespread sabotage is simply unacceptable,” said Babs Omotowa, Shell’s vice president overseeing health and safety issues in Africa. “Last year, 98 percent of the oil spilled from (Shell’s Nigeria) operations was caused by sabotage. It is our policy to clean up spills regardless of the cause.”
Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria, partners with the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. Oil revenue from Shell and other oil companies operating in Nigeria provides about 80 percent of the country’s government funding.

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