Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has said that the corporation is working towards the deployment of drones across the nation’s territorial waters to monitor the inwards and outwards movement of oil vessels.
In a presentation at the special conference on Security in the Gulf of Guinea, organized by the Gusau Institute, Kachikwu said the corporation is 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.
Mr. Ohi Alegbe, Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, quoted the helmsman in a statement saying: “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 is 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 lies squarely with the host communities.
“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,’’ he said.
Lamenting the impact of oil theft on the smooth operations of the nation’s refineries, Kachikwu warned that if left unchecked, the menace could invariably make it impossible for NNPC to operate the refineries.
“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 vandalisation attempts at the various products pipelines across the country. In addition to that, the pipelines supposed to convey crude to the refineries are perpetually hacked,’’ he added.
He noted that the resort to the use of marine vessels to convey crude to the refineries is 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.”