A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Vandalism of gas pipelines and power generation

14 January 2015, Lagos – The Minister for Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo took on the challenge of the Power Ministry nearly two years ago. At the time he came on board, he immediately took the path of nearly all past ministers in the ministry since the inception of Democracy in 1999.
They all made promises about how at a certain time the country would enjoy a certain level of power generation and experience a real uplift in the scandalous power situation that we have been experiencing for over two decades.


Prof. Chinedu Nebo.
Prof. Chinedu Nebo.

One by one, each one of these ministers would state the goal of reaching new heights and then when this fails, the excuses would start tumbling out.
The most prominent of the excuses is the vandalism of the gas pipelines. Professor Nebo however has taken this to new heights as he has been claiming that the current power generation should have met the targets set out by the government but for vandalism. In fact he claims and insinuates that the vandals deliberately want to prevent the government from reaching its targets.

Unfortunately, Professor Nebo is never challenged just like his predecessors to show proof of this vandalism. It is always a one-sided claim and the general public takes it for a fact.
I am surprised that at no time has any evidence of this been produced. It is pertinent to note that there is a difference between pipelines conveying gas and pipelines conveying crude oil and refined products. The pipelines conveying crude oil and refined products are usually larger and have less pressure in them than those conveying gas. The pressure is needed to move the gas along the pipe. It is this fact that makes it almost impossible to miss when a gas pipeline is vandalised. The attendant explosion that will accompany any attempt to penetrate the high pressure pipe will be noticed and evident in the destruction and large scale damage both to the structure and the surroundings.
It would only be suicidal vandals that will have the intent to blow up a gas pipeline except they are in collusion with the operators to turn off the gas before they carry out their act. If this is the case, then these collaborators can be easily ousted.

Whilst there is evidence of vandalism of crude oil and refined products pipelines – pollution and destruction of the plant and fauna can easily be seen viz- oil slicks on water and plants around the points of entry into the pipes, the simplistic claim of vandalism of gas pipelines as a reason for the poor power generation can easily be proven. Just show evidence of the wide spread destruction where this was done. Show the pictures and location so that confirmation can be made. If this cannot be shown, it is a self-serving excuse by the minister to cover up the broken promises made to a very gullible public.

The truth of the gas supply in Nigeria for power projects is that there is simply not enough supply. The infrastructure needed i.e. pipelines and supply sources are just not there because entrepreneurs or companies in that business will not recoup their investment based on current pricing rates and stifling control of the government. That is one of the reasons the PIB is needed fast. To deregulate the industry and free it from government control.

Some key industries in Nigeria have since crossed over to gas as their main source of power supply for their manufacturing processes. These include Dangote, Cadbury, Nestle and others. The gas they use comes from the same source as the one used for the turbines of the power generating plants. When last did any of these companies complain that their manufacturing targets were not met because of vandalism of pipelines? The truth is that even if there is vandalism, it is more likely to be of the bigger pipes for crude and refined products which the vandals can tap and sell for gain. They cannot sell the gas. If it is criminal sabotage for some purpose, why has the DSS not uncovered those behind it? This is more crucial than uncovering supposed hackers of websites as the effects true cause real injury to millions of Nigerians.

Our journalists should be bold enough to investigate these claims by the minister and give Nigerians the truth of their findings.


– This Day

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