Drones to Guard Nigeria's Oil Sector

Respite may have come the way of managers of the Nigeria's oil assets and infrastructure as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said it has concluded plans to deploy drones across the nation’s territorial waters to monitor pipelines and movement of oil vessels. This is hoped to curb criminal activities perpetrated in that sector.

Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed this in a presentation he made at the special conference on Security in the Gulf of Guinea, organised by the Gusau Institute, in Abuja. Kachikwu explained that the corporation was working on a range of far reaching options aimed at ending the ugly episodes of crude and petroleum products theft within the next eight months.

On 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 critical oil and gas assets lies squarely with the host communities.

“We are launching an armada of approaches which will include the deployment of drones to check movements of vessels within our territorial waters; we are looking at the current logistical nightmares of changing workers 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 skills but not in terms of arsenal for patrols within the maritime area.

"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. 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, ’’ he said.

Kachikwu maintained that the impact of oil theft is hampering the smooth operations of the nation’s refineries, warning that, if left unchecked, the menace could lead to the inability of NNPC to operate the refineries. He noted that the resort to the use of marine vessels to convey crude to the refineries is coming at heavy cost. He explained that beyond the loss of crude and products, the incidents of oil theft have also claimed a huge number of human lives, informing 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 the activities of oil thieves.

He informed that in executing the campaign, adequate support will be sought from the International community, especially from countries that have become host nations to stolen  crude oil cargoes. Earlier 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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