A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Nigeria to deploy digital technology to check pipeline vandalism

Shell pipeline in the Niger Delta.
Shell pipeline in the Niger Delta.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

22 January 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government has disclosed that it plans to deploy the use of digital surveillance technology in its efforts to check the menace of pipeline vandalism across the country.

Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, who stated this in Abuja yesterday noted that only the use and application of a digital surveillance system can authorities effectively monitor thousands of kilometres of pipeline in the country.

Nigeria loses about 150,000 barrels of crude oil to pipeline vandalism every day. With the current oil prices (As at January 21, 2015, the price of OPEC basket of twelve crudes stood at $43.04 per barrel), it means Nigeria is losing $6.5 million daily to vandalism.

According to him, the government had not been helpless with the situation, but has not been able to do much because it requires huge capital investment to deploy digital technology in monitoring the gas pipelines from vandals.

He added that considering how much the country would be saving daily if pipeline vandalism is stamped out, one would argue that the investment would be worth it.

“The government is not helpless in combating pipeline vandalism. The problem is that we have not fully deployed digital system of surveillance. It is very expensive but you must put in a surveillance system that is 100 per cent digital. This is so that wherever you are, if there is any slight tampering or even touching of the line, it tells you exactly where and when it is happening,” said Nebo.

He added, “It is not a matter of what we are doing now, when if a hole is punched in a line, we will spend the whole day looking for it. But this technology costs hundreds of millions of dollars and the President has already started doing something on that to make sure we stop vandalism.”

Reacting to the issue of estimated billing by power distribution companies (DISCOs), which they are using to cover their commercial losses, the minister said: “We cut back technical losses substantially. Unfortunately it is not so with commercial losses. More than 50 percent of Nigerians are not metered.

“Some who are metered circumvent the metres and do connections that are illegal. Also, many people are not paying their energy bills. Many people are using electricity without the knowledge of the electricity companies. And that is why some of these companies reported a colossal loss of over 50 percent, some of them even 55 percent.

“So who pays if there is a tariff adjustment? So at the end of the day, it is those who pay that are forced to pay more. This is because it is those you see that you will get your money from,” Nebo said.

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