In a bid to fight oil theft on the nation’s waterways, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has disclosed that it 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 managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, made the disclosure at a special conference on security in the Gulf of Guinea organised by the Gusau Institute.
“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,” Dr Kachikwu said.
The moves are expected to end theft within the next eight months, the NNPC statement added.
Kachikwu said that if oil theft was left unchecked, it could make it impossible for NNPC to operate the nation’s four 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,”
“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.
Kachikwu also noted that the resort to the use of marine vessels to convey crude to the refineries was coming at heavy cost.
He said: “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”.
Kachikwu further explained that beyond the loss of crude and products, the incidents of oil theft have also claimed a huge number of human lives. He said 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 stressed.
He said that in executing the campaign, adequate support would be sought from the international community especially from countries that had become host nations to the stolen cargoes.
Speaking at the conference, Sao Tome Prime Minister and Principe, Patrice Emery Trovoada, urged countries in the Gulf of Guinea to forge better collaboration to improve maritime security.