Friday, August 07, 2020

No harm, no leaks: Shell’s Goal Zero to the rescue - ITREALMS

In this piece REMMY NWEKE examined the efforts by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in cleaning up Ogoniland with its Goal Zero initiative in compliance with UNEP Report of 2011.
Preamble:
Operating in an environment like Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, one thing topmost in the mind should be the state of the region with regards to zero-tolerance to anything that could bring about oil spills let alone increase in current situation of the region.

This brings to mind the Goal Zero, an initiative of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to improve performance placing the best global practices in the forefront towards achieving no harm and no leaks across all its operations.

ITREALMS gathered that in order to drastically reduce the number of operational spills in the country, SPDV JV came up with this Goal Zero to forster the implementation of ongoing work so as to appraise, maintain and replace key sections of pipelines and flow lines.

Reduced spill record:
Thus it was heartwarming that the 2019 annual review, as contained in the Nigerian Briefing Notes available to 
ITREALMS shows that in 2019 the SPDC JV reduced operational spills to their lowest levels, significantly reduced breaches from wellheads and cleaned up more spill sites than ever before.

Also, the energy company reported that seven operational spills in 2019, recorded a 46.6 per cent decrease over the previous year when it recorded 15 such spills and given the data available showed that in 2019, theft and sabotage resulted in 156 spills, whereas in 2018, the figure was 109.

ITREALMS gathered that the SPDC JV has a policy that when a leak is identified, the team responds to contain any spilled oil and clean up. Take for instance, in 2019, SPDC JV remediated 130 sites, thus, given boost to elimination of spills from its operational activities, remediate past spills and prevent spills caused by crude oil theft, sabotage of pipelines or illegal oil refining. While SPDC operates to the same technical standards as other Shell companies globally, illegal activities continue to inhibit a normal operating environment, even as the past spills from operational and illegal activities, have been well documented, resulting in a clean-up programme and, where appropriate, compensation.

Equally, 
ITREALMS gathered, there is still much work to do to get the company to its target of Goal Zero in all spills operational and third-party vandalism, hence, with a solid strategy, active partnerships, closer community engagements, bold security and new surveillance equipment, SPDC JV is steadily making good progress.

Noteworthy is that some progress have been made in various areas, including via improving, performance, preventing illegal activity. response and investigation, improving remediation and clean-up in Ogoniland.

Response to spilled oil:
ITREALMS went on to gather that when a leak is identified, production is suspended, and efforts made to contain any spilled oil, SPDC stressed that they regularly test the emergency spill response procedures and capability to ensure staff and contractors could respond rapidly to an incident.

In addition, 
ITREALMS reports that in line with government regulations, a Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) team visits the spill site to establish the cause and volume of oil spilled, which SPDC underscored that the team often comprises representatives from SPDC, regulators, government security agencies, state governments and communities.

Clean up in Ogoniland:
Specifically, in order to clean up Ogoniland in line with the implementation of the 2011 United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report on the community, SPDC work with the relevant stakeholders, to ensure compliance by taking action on all, and completed most of the UNEP recommendations addressed precisely to it as operator of the joint venture.

The UNEP report had recommended the creation of an Ogoni Trust Fund with $1 billion capital to be co-funded by the Nigerian government, the SPDC JV and other operators in the area. And in response to this, SPDC JV has shown commitment by contributing its share of $900m over five years to the fund and made $10 million available in 2017 to help set up the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP), an agency established by the federal government to lead the clean-up effort.

For instance, in 2018, the SPDC JV deposited a further $170 million into the escrow account to fund HYPREP’s activities, to complete its first-year contribution of $180 million, and in 2019 contributed the next tranche of $180m, underlining that at the end of 2019, the total contribution made was $360m which represents the full amount due for the two years, even as SPDC has continued to work with the Bodo community and others to clean up areas affected by two operational spills in 2008. This was literally crowned with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) granting SPDC access to begin the clean-up was signed in 2015 and two contractors were selected to conduct the clean-up, overseen by an independent project director.

ITREALMS learnt that the clean-up consists of three phases, namely the removal of free phase surface oil; remediation of soil; and planting of mangroves and monitoring.

Summary:
Based on the foregoing, the removal of surface oil which started in September 2017 was completed in August 2018; Field remediation activities which started in November 2019 following a contract procurement process to select remediation contractors. While some 800 community workers have been medically checked, assessed for their swimming ability to ensure they can safely respond to incidents in rivers and creeks, and trained to International Maritime Organisation (IMO) oil spill response Levels one and two, just as remediation is expected to take around 18 months.

Therefore, the clean-up will only be successful if the repeated re-contamination of cleaned-up sites from illegal third-party activity stops. Thus SPDC JV deserves commendation for being alive to its responsibility as far as the cleaning up of Niger Delta and Ogoni-land is concerned precisely.

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