…350 die in oil pipeline blasts
Federal government has set an eight month deadline to stop crude oil theft and illegal export of stolen crude by syndicates that also frequently break upstream production conduits in the Niger Delta. Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who made the pledge yesterday also disclosed that over 350 people have been killed in incidents associated with pipeline vandalism in the country.
Massive production losses, frequent pipeline breaks, rising facility maintenance cost as well as environment pollution and remediation are all associated with massive stealing of crude oil, petroleum products and illegal refineries in the country. The cost pressure on legitimate players in the industry has led to poor financial performance of the companies, threatened huge investments in the upstream petroleum industry and also compounded fallings crude oil prices to worsen debt overhang in the industry.
Leaders of indigenous oil and gas producers who visited President Muhammadu Buhari recently in Abuja had challenged government to deal with issues of crude theft and pipeline vandalism and secure the environment for investors.
Spokesman of the group, Mr Austin Avuru who is the Managing Director of Seplat Petroleum, had stated that the indigenous firms in the upstream petroleum sector have invested over $12 billion in asset acquisition and employed thousands of Nigerians in their direct and indirect businesses. He however lamented that the huge investments by all players in the industry are under threat by thieving vandals.
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 was working on a range of far reaching options designed to end crude and petroleum products theft within the next eight months.
In realizing the target Dr. Kachikwu stated that the corporation would now adopt a facility surveillance system that would make use of drones to regular overflight and tracking of movement of vandals along the pipeline rights of way. He said NNPC was would deploy drones across the nation’s territorial waters to monitor the inwards and outwards movement of oil bearing vessels.
“ 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