Following a third break of the Trans-Forcados petroleum pipeline over a stretch of 17 days within January 2015, the federal government has expressed fears that such acts could be orchestrated attempts to keep Nigeria’s electricity generation at the 4500 megawatts (MW) level it attained in 2013.
Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, stated at a recent town hall meeting that but for such incessant attacks on petroleum pipelines, notably Trans Forcados, the country’s electricity generation ought to have grown above its current level and perhaps averaging about 7000MW.
In addition to a recent break on Trans Forcados which occurred at the Oteghele axis in Bayelsa State and resulted in crude oil spill, other breaks at the 24’’ TFP section of the Trans Forcados pipeline at Okuokoko/Ugbomro, 24 TFP section at Egbokodo and 28 TFP section at Yeye/Chanomi axis had occurred on the same pipeline between January 2 and 4, 2015.
“What the vandals are doing is really painful. If you follow the trend of the attacks, you will notice that any time we come to over 4,000MW, the vandals will strike. When we hit 4,000MW they strike and bring us down,” Nebo said.
He added that: “There was a time we were down because of massive vandalism of these pipelines to less than 2500MW for a couple of days.”
The minister further told the audience that: “By December, we were above 4,300MW until they struck again and this is the reason we keep crying vandalism. Why do people hate their own country? Who is doing these things?
There are people who do it because they want to steal oil, those we call oil thieves but these other people that do these things are not oil thieves.”
“They do it on direct gas pipelines, they go under water, in terrains that you and I will not have the guts to go and they burst these gas pipelines. Sometimes they do it in multiple places so that by the time you fix this one thinking you are done others are there because you never find the pressure enough.
There are more, like the one they did in 2013 that took almost eight months to fix. More than two dozen spots, what were they doing? They can’t use the gas. That is why we keep crying out loud; let the vandals spare this country,” he added.
While noting that the government’s enlistment of the Nigerian military and other security formations in-country was yielding results, Nebo posited that: “But the problem is they are long, and in terrains that are difficult to reach, where you and I would ordinarily not want to go or even venture into but this people are so determined that they want to show Nigeria that we cannot deliver power.”
“We have come to a level where if we know that there is milestone to be achieved especially now that there is a lot of gas available we cannot even announce it because once we announce it they preempt us.
Hopefully with what the president is doing now we are going to be able to have much better security for the oil and gas pipelines and I do believe that by the grace of God after the elections maybe the saboteurs will see that there is no need to continue until several years to come,” he said.
The minister also said that notwithstanding, the development has pushed the country to begin to think more about other alternative source of electricity.
“The only good thing coming out of this is that it has massively moved us to begin to deploy a much better and robust energy mix for the country.
It is now driving us to work hard to make sure that Nigeria will never be held hostage by vandals in the future. But it is going to take time to develop the coal plants, the solar farms, wind farms and it is going to take more time to develop the more hydros that are coming on stream,” he added.