According to him, the sabotage of facilities in the industry is the biggest challenge confronting oil companies operating in the Niger Delta, adding that this was a major causal factor that plunged Nigeria into recession in 2016.
Okunbor, who doubles as the Chairman of the Oil Producers Trade Section of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, spoke at a panel session during the ongoing Nigeria International Petroleum Summit in Abuja.
He noted that Shell had spent huge funds on asset integrity, adding that the company would not hesitate to shut down any asset that was not safe for use.
He said, “The standing view we have in Shell is that if we feel an asset is not safe, we shut it down. Sometimes, it’s at a great economic cost that requires great discussions with our partners but we will shut it down. Through the years, we have invested quite a bit in pipeline replacement, huge spending on asset integrity.
“You and I living in that (Niger Delta) part of the world know that when you actually look at it, it is actually less than 10 per cent or maybe five per cent of these spills that are as a result of operational failures. Well over 90 per cent of what we are seeing is a result of theft and sabotage to facilities.”
Okunbor added, “This is this biggest issue that confronts us in the Delta today. In 2016, many of us in this country saw what happened in the western Delta, when our export line was sabotaged. This is one of the biggest reasons why this country went into recession.
“Close to 300,000 barrels per day of oil were taken out at a time when oil prices were at historic lows and it cost us well over $100m to actually replace that line. This problem is real and we will not hide as operators in ensuring that we continue to operate in the best international standards.”