The Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Limited (NNPL), Mele Kyari, Tuesday, lamented the high scale oil theft, vandalism of infrastructure in the Niger Delta, saying that the nation was seriously facing calamity as a result of that.
He spoke at his appearance with other top management officers of the agency before the Senate’s joint committees on Petroleum (Downstream), Petroleum (Upstream) and Gas, saying there should be capital punishment to save the nation’s oil and gas industry.
Kyari’s position tallied with the suggestion of Senator Albert Bassey Akpan, representing Akwa Ibom North East Senatorial district, who earlier revealed that his Committee made a fact finding trip to Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State and discovered illegal oil refineries, crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism activities were massively going on.
Continuing, Mele posited that other African oil rich countries once have similar challenges, especially Morocco, but solved the problem by instantly killing criminals that were destroying the infrastructure, while he urged the Nigerian parliament to consider capital punishment to save the industry from total collapse.
He recalled that the crime of oil theft in Nigeria has been going on for many years and specifically about 22 years ago, but the dimension it assumed in recent times was unprecedented.
“As earlier stated as a result of the oil theft, Nigeria losses about 600,000 barrels per day which is not healthy for the nation’s economy and in particular , the illegal operators in the field which had led to the closure of some of their operational facilities.
“But in rising up to the highly disturbing challenge, NNPCL, has in recent time in collaboration with relevant security agencies, clamped down on the economic saboteurs.
“In the course of the clamp down within the last six weeks, 395 illegal refineries have been deactivated, 274 reservoirs destroyed, 1,561 metal tanks destroyed, 49 trucks seized and the most striking of all, is the 4 kilometeres illegal oil connection line from Forcados Terminal into the sea which had been in operation undetected for 9 solid years,” he said.
He explained further to the committee that in addressing the menace, NNPCL carried out aerial surveillance of the affected areas and saw the economic saboteurs carrying out their activities unchallenged and unperturbed.
“The problem at hand is not only security but social as locals in most areas where the illegal refiners operate, unknowingly serve as their employees by mistaking them for operatives of licensed companies for oil exploration and production in the area,” he added.
He further added that being a problem requiring urgent solution, the Cambodia and Mexico models of involvement of non-state actors are being adopted by NNPCL with involvement of three private security companies.
“Is not abnormal to involve non-state actors for protection of oil pipelines and other critical infrastructure as done in Cambodia and Mexico which produced desired results,” he said.
Reacting, the Chairman of the joint Committee, Senator Mohammed Sabo Nakudu representing Jigawa South West told the NNPCL boss to get prepared for oversight functions on Port Harcourt and Warri Refineries claimed to have been rehabilitated