The Manager, Public Affairs and External Relations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, subsidiary in charge of the marketing and distribution of petroleum products, Nasir Imodagbe, said this on Thursday in Abuja.
According to Mr. Imodagbe, criminalising the illegal trade in Nigerian crude oil would curb the growing menace of crude pipeline vandalism in the oil and gas industry in the country.
The spokesperson said the international community must collaborate with the Nigerian government to stop the illegal trade in stolen Nigerian crude oil abroad the same way it is criminalising stolen diamonds from Congo and Sierra Leone.
“If the international community has always come down hard on stolen diamonds from Sierra Leone and Congo by labelling them as ‘blood diamonds’, it also needs to take a similar position on stolen Nigerian crude to stop oil theft in the country,” he said.
While urging the Nigerian Government to use diplomatic means to stop the thriving market for stolen Nigerian crude abroad, he stressed the need to utilise all diplomatic means to persuade the international community to criminalise the trade in stolen Nigerian crude oil abroad.
Mr. Imodagbe, who identified pipeline vandalism as one of the biggest threats to PPMC and NNPC operations, particularly in the supply of petroleum products across the country, said government needs to adopt policies and mechanisms that would make the sale of our stolen crude very difficult.
The manager said that the PPMC was already working on a number of measures, including the intensification of collaboration with security operatives in the country to increase their surveillance activities to curb pipeline vandalism.
He suggested the use of technologically-advanced gadgets, stiff legislation, robust security network and public enlightenment as panacea to the problem.
On its part, he said PPMC has upgraded most of the archaic pipeline network in the country in line with international best practices, adding that the use of the Horizontal Directional Drilling, HDD, technology in re-laying some pipelines would go a long way, as it involves burying the pipelines deeper inside the ground outside the reach of the vandals.
He, however, pointed out that the HDD was a capital intensive project that might cost a lot of
money to implement, adding that PPMC was already exploring the possibility of using electronic monitoring devices on the pipelines, in addition to quick response teams, which would attend to distress calls from the control room.
He urged stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to join the government to sensitize host communities on the dangers of pipeline vandalism and oil theft to the environment and the economy.
The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said recently that Nigeria loses about 180,000 barrels of crude oil per day, BPD, to crude thieves, translating to about $7 billion (N1.05 trillion) annually.
She also said another $5 billion (N750 billion) was spent on the repairs of vandalised pipelines
in 2011 alone.
Recently, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Andrew Yakubu, said that the corporation recorded about 1,498 breaches in its petroleum pipeline systems in the last quarter of 2012.
He said that between Atlas Cove and Mosimi depot, about 181 break points were recorded; while about 421 ruptured points were found from Mosimi to Ibadan; and 50 vandalised points from Mosimi to Ore. A total of 122 break points were discovered between Ibadan and Ilorin.