Incessant disruption of the operations of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Nigeria's Niger-Delta has become a major source of concern for the management of the oil giant as well as its joint venture partners, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
THISDAY gathered that the SPDC is hard hit by dwindling financial fortunes attributed to generally unfriendly business environment, particularly in the oil-rich region, the highpoint of which is the astronomical cost of repairing vandalised pipelines and other oil and gas installations.
The persistent disruption of the operations of the oil company also affects the activities of the NNPC, in terms of the depletion of the country's crude oil export quota as well as shortage of gas supply to its subsidiary, Nigerian Gas Company (NGC), which has monopoly of industrial and gas supply in Nigeria.
The Federal Government recently expressed concern over the renewed threat to the nation's power generation capacity due to the shortfall in gas available to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) owing to the problem that has lingered in the Niger-Delta despite the relative success of the amnesty programme.
According to the out-going Executive Vice-President of Shell Africa, Miss Ann Pickard, SPDC has managed to stay afloat in the country by the grace of the generous financial lifeline recently offered by international Shell Group.
Pickard, who is proceeding on transfer to Australia, spoke at the weekend while leading her successor, Mr. Ian Craig, on familiarisation visits to some states in the Niger-Delta region, where the company's investments are located .
She noted that Shell Group had to dish out a whopping $2 billion to SPDC Joint Ventures to enable it stay afloat.
At the palace of the Orodje of Okpe, His Royal Majesty, Orhue I, she commended the people of the region for providing Shell with support over the last several years, noting that over 60 per cent of its scholarship awards were given to applicants from the region.
Pickard however lamented that the business environment had not been quite enabling, particularly in the last four years, saying this had impacted adversely on its operations, adding that paucity of funds had prevented expansion and more jobs creation.
She expressed the hope that the steps taken by the Federal Government through the amnesty and security initiatives would create the right environment for oil and gas business to thrive again in the Niger-Delta.
Also speaking, Craig expressed delight to be in Nigeria and called for a cordial relationship between the host communities and the oil giants.
While welcoming the delegation, the royal father urged the company to employ more personnel from the region , saying its operation is important to economy of the country.
He implored the company to build a flow station in Okpe Kingdom and pledged to always ensure the protection of Shell's facilities in his domain.
Besides, the royal father urged the management of Shell to be proactive, especially regarding environmental issues in its area of operations.
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