Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said at the weekend that pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta was causing Nigeria huge revenue losses and preventing the country from meeting its daily crude oil production plan.
Osinbajo made the assertion on Friday in Warri after an assessment of the damage to pipelines at the Forcados Terminal in Delta State.
He said the federal government was weighing several options in an attempt to tackle the menace, including dedication of a special anti-vandalism security force to the oil producing areas.
The Navy has already commenced a massive operation in the Niger Delta to secure oil facilities.
Nigeria recently lost its Africa’s top oil producer status to Angola following vast drops in crude oil production.
According to the latest data from the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Nigeria’s daily crude oil production fell by 67,000 barrels per day last month. In its Monthly Oil Market Report for April, which was released on Wednesday, OPEC said Nigeria produced 1.677 million barrels per day in March, down from 1.744 million bpd in February, while the Angolan oil output rose from 1.767 million bpd to 1.782 million. It was the second time in four months that Nigeria would be pushed to the second position by Angola in the continental crude oil production profile.
Lamenting the damage to Nigeria’s production capacity due to the destruction of oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta by pipeline vandals, Osinbajo said the federal government was considering deploying more sophisticated military machinery in the region to protect the oil infrastructure.
Fielding questions from newsmen, he said the country was “losing thousands of barrels of production”.
“We are not able to produce as much as we ought to. About 250,000 barrels are lost per day. We are losing large sums of money daily. We look for alternatives while we look forward to repairing the pipelines,” he said.
Osinbajo said vandalism was also affecting gas supply to the country’s power stations.
“The damage done has led to low supply of gas and most of the power plants are not functioning to maximum capacity. We went to Forcados to see for ourselves the sabotage done to our pipelines. We have seen the alternative steps that the NNPC is taking in order to ameliorate the damage that has been done and the problem associated with getting gas from that terminal to all of our plants,” Osinbajo said.
The vice president, who was accompanied on the visit by the Delta State governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, and some senior federal and state government officials, added, “There is a lot of effort being made by the federal government and (Delta) state government as well as communal help. We must meet current vandalism challenges but also look into what we can do in the future.
“We would have to deploy even sophisticated weapons to ensure we contain the vandalism, overhaul security, and a permanent pipeline security force might also be an option to look at.”
He likened pipeline vandals to “any type of terrorists or saboteurs,” saying President Muhammadu Buhari’s position on confronting vandals with the severest measures possible should be supported by all and sundry.
“I agree entirely that pipelines vandals should not be tolerated under any circumstances,” he said.
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