Oil industry stakeholders, including pipeline host communities have expressed satisfaction with pipeline surveillance strategy to securing the nation’s crude oil from oil thieves, illegal bunkerers/Kpo fire operators and pipeline vandals.
They said that crude oil theft has reduced by over 90% evident in the reduced availability of illegally refined product and significant improvement in the terminal recovery factor.
At the peak of the dark days of the oil theft, industry sources have it that Nigeria was losing over 96% of its oil in the Eastern corridor to oil thieves and vandals with a large chunk of that volume being stolen from the pipelines, especially the Trans Niger Pipeline TNP which conveys crude to Bonny export terminal from the various oil wells in the Niger Delta.
The economic implications were dire on the nation leading to economic depression and slow growth with its attendant hardship, especially as crude oil revenue being the largest contributor to the nation foreign exchange earner.
Added to this were environmental and health challenges posed by collateral damage to the environment through oil pollution emanating from leakages from pipeline, usually sabotaged in the course of oil tapping and the emission of soot into the environment adjudged to endanger the lives of people living close to places where the stolen crude was crudely and illegally refined by oil thieves popularly known as kpo fire operators.
In August 2022, the Nigeria government through the NNPC commenced an industry wide architecture to end the menace, which has punched numerous holes into the nation’s purse, was with significant negative impact on the health and fishing livelihood of the host communities.
Since then improvements have been recorded and this can be seen from recent reports showing significant increase in the in the overall oil production values and receipts over 90%. In addition to the production improvement, the emission of soot into the environment in areas like Port Harcourt, Owaza, Ibaa, Ndele and Bayelsa, which badly impacted on the people’s health has reduced geometrically and host communities around the impacted swamp sections gradually returning to fishing.
Last week our correspondent took a tour to some of the pipeline host communities to ascertain how security surveillance of the pipelines has fared in their areas and to what extent it has helped to address the challenge of oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
At Norkpo community, Tai local government area in Ogoniland, hosting the 24-inch Trans National Pipeline TNP and 28-inch Bonny loop line, our Correspondent learnt that the pipeline surveillance has not only helped to end illegal bunkering but also fostered peace among the communities.
Speaking to journalists on the performance of the surveillance contractor handling the Ogoni axis, Augustine Aminikpo, JP, His Royal Highness, Paramount Ruler, of the community, said that since Pipeline Infrastructure came into the community two years ago they have made peace to reign in Ogoni axis.
The Royal Father stated; “In fact, before they came in, you cannot wash and keep outside because of bunkering activities that were going on in this our Ogoni axis. The reason we cannot wash and keep outside was because of soot generated from the activities of kpo fire operators. But now, the bunkering activities have reduced and the soot that was staining our clothes when we spread them outside has ceased, now you can wash and keep outside, 24-hours.
“In fact SPDC could not pump crude before but due to efforts of PINL they are pumping 24 hours now. They can pump one week, they can pump two weeks, they can pump one month.
“They have made peace to reign in Ogoni axis, they engage the youths, they empower the youths, they empower the chiefs and His Royal Majesty. They even engage the people that the pipeline did not pass through there lands, like people of Okrika, Ogu, Wakama”.
The Paramount Ruler, who said the two pipelines had divided the community into two added; “As I talk to you there’s no bunkering activities going on. They are no longer doing any bunkering activities in Ogoni axis anymore. No more bunkering, no more Kpo fire anywhere. It is because of the performance of the contractors. So because there is peace now in Ogoni axis. They have tried and we want them to try more”.
He explained that part of the strategy adopted by the company was massive employment of community youths to be part of the pipeline surveillance guards.
He added; “In some communities they engage 20, some 30, some 40. There are three local government areas in Ogoni that the contractor covers. In each of these local governments they employ more than 200.
“For now, those boys that were involved in bunkering activities have forgotten about bunkering and joined in securing the pipelines to make sure that there is peace and to stop bunkering activities”