Alarmed at the rising rates of theft, Shell stated that it was no longer possible to estimate the volumes of stolen crude oil and the attendant environmental costs.
Shell took the unusual step of stating that a well-financed and organized criminal syndicate was behind the rising thefts, AllAfrica news agency reported on Friday.
Shell also took on the country's critical environmental lobby, saying that far from neglecting its pipeline network, Shell had improved its record, experiencing just 36 operational spills in 2012, down 40 percent from 2011 levels, while the volume of oil spilled more than halved to 200 tons.
Shell's sustainability report painted a darker picture however, noting that its Nigerian subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Co., suffered 137 spills as a result of sabotage and theft in 2012, with the volume of oil lost amounting to 33,000 tons. the report noted: "This was an increase in both volume and numbers from 2011, as the scale of oil theft in Nigeria reached unprecedented levels."
In an open letter published in the report, the managing director of SPDC and country chair of Shell Nigeria, Mutiu Sunmonu, said the problem of oil theft in the Niger Delta had reached "unprecedented levels."