The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Wednesday said that both its upstream and downstream operation is under threat due to the activities of “oil pipeline marauders.”
This was disclosed by the Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Corporation, Austen Oniwon at meeting between the management of the NNPC and the Board and Commissioners of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in Abuja.
Mr Oniwon said that pipeline vandalism presents the single biggest threat to the smooth operation of the petroleum industry in Nigeria. He said if left unchecked Nigeria will wake up one day to discover that pipeline thieves have taken over the country.
“In the last few months we have lost millions of dollars in shut-in oil wells as a result of the activities of oil thieves who breach our crude lines to steal oil. So far the Trans-Forcados and the Trans-Niger Trunk lines have been shut-in due to attack on the facilities by thieves,’’ the GMD said.
Mr Oniwon said that the activities of the oil thieves is also a menace to the downstream sector where increased vandalisation of petroleum product pipelines has made it almost impossible to pump products to the depots across the country through the pipelines thereby depending on bridging with trucks.
“Let us take this menace a bit further by looking at the danger it poses to our collective existence as a nation. If we fail to curb this trend we are inadvertently empowering these criminals to take over our Local Government Areas and by the time they do that they would move on to take charge of the states since they now have the resources to decide who get to power and one day we may as well wake up to discover that they have taken over the entire country,’’ he said.
He warned that the situation, if not checked could degenerate to the scenario in countries like Mexico and Colombia where criminals have empowered themselves through nefarious activities and now call the shots because they have stolen so much from the system through under world operations.
“These criminals steal both crude and refined petroleum products and sell same to enrich their pockets, we must work collectively to stop them,’’ he said.
According to data from the NNPC, a total of 16,083 pipeline breaks were recorded between 2000 and 2010. Of the lot, 398 pipeline breaks (2.4 per cent) were as a result of ruptures. Pipeline vandals accounted for the remaining 15,685 breaks (97.5 per cent) of the total number of cases.