Oil Producing Communities To Ensure Safety Of Pipelines

Yemisi Izuora
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has handed new contracts and renewed existing ones for the protection of its oil pipelines by host communities, in a bid to combat pipeline sabotage, which has significantly impacted crude production and fuel supply by the OPEC member country.

Head of Nigeria’s Navy Usman Jibrin recently told the National Assembly that NNPC was currently losing about 100,000 b/d to theft, due to poor law enforcement presence at the pipelines.

In his explanation the NNPC spokesman Ohi Alegbe said the contracts were initially awarded in 2011 to three unnamed security agencies based in the Niger Delta region, had lapsed in 2012 following which there had been an increase in the spate of attacks on crude oil, products and gas pipelines.

“The recent rise in the frequency and intensity of wilful attacks on our pipelines dictates that we step up our community engagement program to help stem the tide of the pipeline vandalism scourge,” he said.

According to the NNPC spokesman, under the current deal, five community-based security outfits in areas with high concentration of crude and oil-products pipelines stretching from the Niger Delta region to Southwest Ondo, Ogun, Oyo and Lagos states, were handed the protection contracts.

NNPC maintains a network of over 5,000 km of pipelines that transport crude to refineries, as well as lines distributing imported fuel to depots across the West African country.

The corporation said in February its upstream subsidiary Nigerian Petroleum Development Company was losing up to 60,000 b/d of its crude oil production and 250 MMcf/d of gas production after thieves punctured the Trans- Forcados pipeline and the Escravos-Lagos gas pipeline.

Platts report  estimates that Nigeria is losing 150,000 b/d to oil theft at a cost of $5 billion/year and foreign oil firms have been disposing their assets in onshore Niger Delta area because of oil theft and pipeline sabotage.

Alegbe said that the contracts to the private security agencies did not in any way obviate or undermine the responsibility of the police and other state security agencies to protect the pipelines, but to complement the work of the security agencies.

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