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SPDC steps up use of AI, deploys HD aerial cameras to man Spills, crude theft

Deployment Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the nation’s petroleum sector is gaining traction as Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), has deployed state-of-the-art high definition cameras for quick detection of and response to crude oil spills from its facilities. The cameras will also help in tracking vandalism of SPDC joint venture assets.

The group’s General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mr Igo Weli, disclosed this at a media workshop for journalists in Warri, Delta State, saying “The cameras are attached to specialised helicopters which carry out daily overflight over our facilities. This measure has improved the surveillance of our Joint Venture assets.”

Weli revealed further that SPDC had implemented anti-theft protection mechanisms on key infrastructure, such as wellheads and manifolds to stem constant attacks from vandals and thereby prevent and minimise sabotage-related spills.

Continuing, he added that the daily loss of over 11,000 barrels of oil per day in 2018 and the threat to the integrity of the joint venture assets necessitated the multi-pronged approach to protecting what he called ‘critical national assets.’

“We collaborate with community leaders, traditional rulers, civil societies 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. Such public enlightenment programmes on the negative impacts to people and the environment help to build greater trust in spill response and clean-up processes.”

Corroborating Weli, SPDC’s general manager, Safety and Environment, Chidube Nnene-Anochie, added that the majority of spill incidents on SPDC pipelines were as a result of sabotage. “We are burdened by the continuous increase in cases of sabotage and theft. Oil spills due to theft and sabotage of facilities as well as illegal refining, cause the most environmental damage from oil and gas operations in the Niger Delta.”

“SPDC removed more than 1,160 illegal theft points from its pipelines between 2012 and end of 2018,” he said revealing further that the attendant spills from the theft points were sometimes made worse by challenges of access to the incident sites to investigate and stop leaks.

Nnene-Anochie, noted that “We track the progress of our spill response from when we learn about the leak to when clean-up is completed and certified by regulators.”

Represented by Temitope Ajibade, SPDC’s Compliance Monitoring Lead, Nnene-Anochie,said no spill was acceptable to the company. “A key priority for Shell companies in Nigeria remains to achieve the goal of no spills from our operations. No spill is acceptable, and we work hard to prevent them. However, SPDC cleans and remediates areas impacted by spills from its facilities irrespective of the cause.”