Management of the Nigerian Ports Authority [NPA] has complained that Nigeria lacks the required facility to detect the identity and origin of any approaching vessel if the vessel switched off its Automatic Identification System (AIS).
Managing director of NPA, Mohammed Bello Koko who spoke during an investigative session with the members of House of Representatives in Abuja yesterday, said as a result, most of the vessels used for oil theft in Nigeria go undetected.
According to the NPA boss, the Automatic Identification System (AIS) enables the investigator to know the identity of an approaching vessel, including the origin and destination
Mohammed complained that NPA lacks the required technology to detect their origin or destination, so the thieving vessel and the persons using them have largely escaped undetected.
Speaking against the backdrop of a recent incident where an oil tanker evaded arrest in Nigeria after illegally lifting crude oil, Koko said the NPA is now in the process of procuring the technology called the Vessel Tracking Service (VTS) to enable it to identify, locate and monitor all vessels in the nation’s waters.
He explained that the agency has been trying to acquire the VTS for about 10 years now and has just identified a certified consultant, while also working with the Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) Company to help with critical detection.
Mohammed however assured that the technology will be procured before the end of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Oil theft has made the headlines in recent times with the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State demanding the unbundling and privatisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.
Three months ago, the federal government awarded a N4.9billion, monthly pipeline surveillance contract to a company led by former militant leader Government Ekpemepulo aka Tompolo.
Group chief executive officer of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, justified the government’s decision to award the multi-billion naira pipelines surveillance contract to Tantita Security Services led by Tompolo.
Meanwhile, Tompolo’s firm recently made startling revelations on crude oil theft in the Niger Delta area. About 58 illegal oil points have been discovered so far since the operation to end oil theft on the waterways of Delta and Bayelsa states began.