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.
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.