The Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has said the NNPC is working towards the deployment of drones across the nation’s territorial waters to monitor the inwards and outwards movement of oil bearing vessels.
In a presentation at the special conference on Security in the Gulf of Guinea organised by the Gusau Institute, Kachikwu stated that the corporation was 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.
Kachikwu, in a statement issued by the firm on Tuesday, 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.”
On the issue of pipeline protection, the GMD explained that though the corporation was 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 was squarely with the host communities.
He said, “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.”
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.
He said, “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.”
According to Kachikwu, the resort to the use of marine vessels to convey crude to the refineries was 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 had also claimed a huge number of human lives.
He said in the last three years a total of 350 persons including NNPC staff, police officers, and community members had been killed as a result of activities of oil thieves.
The GMD observed 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.
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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