Oil Theft: NNPC to Deploy Drones in Nigeria’s Territorial Waters
…Says oil theft, pipeline vandalism claims 350 lives in three years
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) declared plans to deploy drones across the nation’s territorial waters to monitor the inwards and outwards movement of oil bearing vessels as the war on oil theft and pipeline vandalism reached a crescendo.
President Muhammadu Buhari had said that some top government officials moved as much as one million barrels of crude oil amounting to about $50 million per day for their personal purposes.
He told Nigerians in diaspora on July 21 that he had started receiving some documents which indicted some former ministers and other top government officials of massive fraud, including oil theft.
Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu who however declared on Tuesday that his corporation would deploy drones to monitor vessels, also set a target of eight months for the corporation to end crude theft.
“Fresh vista to the fight against the perennial problem of oil theft and pipeline vandalism appeared on the horizon,” the NNPC boss said at the special conference on Security in the Gulf of Guinea organized by the Gusau Institute, adding that “the Corporation is working towards the deployment of drones across the nation’s territorial waters to monitor the inwards and outwards movement of oil bearing vessels.”
The statement signed by Group General Manager, Group Public affairs division of the NNPC, Ohi Alegbe quoted Kachikwu to have said this in a presentation at the special conference on Security in the Gulf of Guinea organized by the Gusau Institute.
“Dr. Kachikwu stated that the Corporation is working on a range of far reaching options designed to end the ugly episodes of crude and petroleum products theft within the next eight months,” Alegbe said.
“We are launching an armada of approaches which will include incorporation of drones to check movements of vessels within our territorial waters.
“We are looking at the current logistical nightmares of changing staffing at the loading bay of crude oil export terminals virtually every 90 days, We are trying to equip the navy sufficiently though they are very well equipped in terms of skill set but not in terms of arsenal for patrols within the maritime area,” NNPC’s helmsman said.
On the issue of pipeline protection, the GMD explained that though the Corporation is working assiduously with the law enforcement agencies to increase the presence of military personnel in the area, the ultimate security for the critical oil and gas assets lies squarely with the host communities.
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“The best security for these pipelines lies with the communities. We are trying to create enough incentives for them to see these pipelines as their own,” he said.
Lamenting the impact of oil theft on the smooth operations of the nation’s refineries, the NNPC GMD warned that if left unchecked, the menace could invariably make it impossible for the NNPC to operate the refineries.
“Most of our product pipelines are ruptured and attacked frequently. For instance between June 2014 and June 2015, we recorded about 3, 500 to 4,000 attempts at the various products pipelines across the country. In addition to that, the pipelines that are supposed to convey crude to the refineries are perpetually hacked, ’’ he said.
Dr. Kachikwu noted that the resort to the use of marine vessels to convey crude to the refineries is coming at heavy cost.
“What this means is that no matter what we do with the refineries today, unless that is solved, we really are going nowhere, we cannot operate the refineries.”
He explained that beyond the loss of crude and products, the incidents of oil theft have also claimed a huge number of human lives. He informed that in the last three years a total of 350 persons including NNPC staff, Police officers, Community members have been killed as a result of activities of oil thieves.
“Today, I ask all of you to join us in this campaign, it is not just a campaign for NNPC but it is a campaign for every Nigerian…. So it is war time, it is business time, it is focus time and there is a lot to do. Everybody is being called to the table and everybody is being called on the state of alert but in eight months we must be able to deliver an environment that is free from the vices of oil theft,’’ Kachikwu enthused.
He informed that in executing the campaign, adequate support will be sought from the International community especially from countries that have become host nations to the stolen cargoes.
Earlier in his Keynote Address, His Excellency Patrice Emery Trovoada, PRIME Minister of Sao Tome and Principe called on the countries in the Gulf of Guinea to forge a broad based collaboration to stem the ugly tide of insecurity on all the water ways.
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President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday July 21 confirmed that he had started receiving some documents which indicted some former ministers and other top government officials of massive fraud, including oil theft.
Buhari said the documents revealed that some top government officials moved as much as one million barrels of crude oil per day for their personal purposes.
The President stated these while speaking at an interactive session with Nigerians in the Diaspora at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC, United States, in continuation of his four-day official visit to the country.
He alleged that such officials also opened as many as five bank accounts abroad for the purpose of laundering money.
While describing the amount of money involved in the shady deals as mind-boggling, the President promised that his administration would use the indicting documents and others still being compiled to clamp down on the culprits and prosecute them.