The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) says it will acquire drones to monitor its pipelines and wellheads in the Niger Delta region.

Igo Weli, SPDC’s general manager, external relations, made this known at a news conference in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

Weli said the company decided to acquire drones due to frequent attacks on its pipelines, leading to revenue losses from activities of oil thieves and pipeline vandals.

According to him, the oil thieves punctured SPDC pipelines and wellheads and redirected crude oil to their illegal refining sites.

“To this end, we have signed a contract, and soon we will start using drones to monitor our pipelines, wellheads and other facilities,” the statement reads.

“Shell does so much to protect its assets in Nigeria.”

He added that frequent attacks on its oil and gas facilities by organised criminals had worsened over the years, resulting in the company spending huge funds to protect its facilities.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Weli said the company was also collaborating with security agencies by sharing data on the locations and activities of illegal bunkers and refining sites.

“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.

On the reopening of the Trans-Niger Pipeline shut down by the company in March, Weli said the company would only reopen the pipeline when the facility is secured from attacks.

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