Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) has warned that the illegal occupation of Belema Flow Station and Gas Plant in Rivers State has safety implications both for the people at the facilities and nearby communities. Since August 11, Shell raised an alarm that some persons have camped out day and night at the two facilities.
In a statement issued by Shell, the company said they were deeply concerned that unauthorized persons, including women and children, have been observed in close proximity to equipment that process crude oil and gas without the protection of safety clothing that is mandatory for people working in or accessing such restricted areas.
As a result, the company said it had to force an emergency shutdown of production ahead of the illegal occupation, but has been unable to access the facilities since then to ensure a safe shutdown over a prolonged period. The continued illegal occupation for many days exposes people at the plant to higher safety risks as anything could trigger a spill or fire with potentially serious consequences, Shell warned.
Nonetheless, the company reiterated its commitment to the development of the Niger Delta, especially its host communities including Belema and Kula. “The SPDC JV partners have contributed $29billion to the economic growth of Nigeria between 2012 and 2016,” it added.
The company said it is currently supporting various GMoU Cluster Development Boards in the Niger Delta, and mentoring non-government organizations (NGOs) to deploy about N7billion for development projects of host communities’ choice under the GMoU programme.