Shell Petroleum Development Company has described the oil spill in Okololaunch community in Bonny Local Government as an act of sabotage.
SPDC stated that contrary to the claim in some quarters that the spill, which occurred on November 22, 2014, was caused by a swamp-buggy caterpillar belonging to one of its (Shell) contractors, the leak was as a result of sabotage.
The Organization of Fishermen, Seafood Dealers and Farmers in the Niger Delta had alleged that the oil firm intentionally decided not to own up to the oil spill in order to avoid paying compensation.
The union insisted that the swamp buggy machine operator handling Shell’s project in the community had hit the 24-inch Trans-Niger Pipeline, a development that caused huge oil spill in Okololaunch.
But the spokesman for Shell in Port Harcourt, Mr. Joseph Obari, explained that a joint investigation team that visited the site of the spill disclosed that the spill was caused by oil thieves.
Obari said in a statement issued in Port Harcourt on Thursday that the oil thieves had installed a failed crude point that made oil spill in the area inevitable.
Obari disclosed that the oil firm discovered 17 new crude theft points before re-opening the line on November 30, 2014.
He said, “SPDC took advantage of the shutdown of the 28-inch TNP to remove 17 newly discovered crude theft points before reopening the line on November 30, 2014.
“But unfortunately, the 28-inch TNP line had to be shut in again on the same day, following a fire outbreak at Gio community in Ogoniland.
“A subsequent joint investigation visit to the site of the incident at Gio confirmed that fire emanated from a newly drilled hole. The fire was extinguished on December 1st, and the line was repaired and reopened the following day.”
Obari stated that representatives of government regulatory agencies, the communities, SPDC and some NGOs were among the joint investigation team.