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Why oil, gas pipelines vandalism persists in Nigeria, by stakeholders

By Kingsley Jeremiah, Abuja
11 December 2019   |   3:28 am
Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector yesterday decried the rising cases of oil pipeline vandalism in the country, which has led to a loss of over $42b

[FILES] Oil Pipeline. Photo: MORROWSHEPARD

Stakeholders in the oil and gas sector yesterday decried the rising cases of oil pipeline vandalism in the country, which has led to a loss of over $42b in the past 10 years.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari and Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, among others, lamented that the situation posed a serious challenge to national development.

They stated this at a forum organised by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) in Abuja to address the menace, adding that lack of proper governance and accountability was fueling oil theft and vandalism.

Obaseki, who chairs a committee set up by the National Economic Council (NEC) to find a solution to the challenge, said the development was getting worse since no one has been held accountable for the losses.

“There is absence of proper governance for the pipelines such that no one is held accountable when there is a breach on the lines. It is bad enough to lose products, but these products are co-owned by the operators and the government.

“When breeches are reported, when products are lost, we just deal with the financial losses and disregard what happens to government. Nobody is ever held accountable; nobody is brought to order,” he said.

Having recorded 45,347 pipeline breaks in the past 18 years, Obaseki said 22m barrels of oil valued at $1.35b was lost to thieves in the first six months of this year.

He disclosed that most of the crude oil losses were recorded on trunk lines operated by companies, which own production fields and pipelines, adding that trunk lines outsourced to third parties recorded the least breeches.

“We lost 22.6m barrels of crude oil estimated at $1.3b in the first half of the year, but these losses occurred specifically in the Nembe trunk line. We lost 9.2m barrels; in the Trans Niger Pipeline, we lost 8.6m barrels; and in the Trans Forcados pipeline, 3.9m barrels,” he added.

Speaking, Sylva, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Niger Delta, Felix Bobnabena, said oil theft required collaborative efforts if the country must overcome the menace.

On his part, Kyari, who was represented by NNPC’s Chief Operating Officer, Upstream, Roland Ewubare, said the development constituted a threat to national economy, especially because of the critical role oil and gas revenues play in the country.

“NNPC as a player in the downstream sector has felt the direct brunt of the attacks on our facilities and assets. Between 2001 and 2019, we recorded 45,347 pipeline breaks and breeches on our downstream pipeline network,” he added

Acting Chairman of NEITI board, Gana Latinwa, said what the country loses to oil theft could have been deployed to providing social infrastructure if prevented.