‎NNPC resorts to ‘controversial’ community enforcers to protect pipelines

NNPC towers

NNPC towers

*Contract to ‘five community-based companies’ worth billions

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

12 March 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja –
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has announced that it would return to the use of local ‘community protection’ for its oil and gas facilities across the country.

The Corporation had in recent past described its expenditure on the fixing of vandalised pipelines as burdensome and unnecessary.

This is even as it maintained that ending it’s controversial contract with “community services” in the provision of security for oil and gas pipelines, may have led to a rise in pipeline vandalism across the country.

The announcement, yesterday, which was made in a statement signed by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, however, called on the media and other members of the public to desist from reading political meanings to the Corporation’s operations.

It stated that, “In a bid to effectively combat the growing scourge of pipeline sabotage that has impacted negatively on its operations, the Management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has announced the renewal and extension of the pipeline protection contract to some of its host communities.”

Explaining the rationale behind the renewal of the contract which was first awarded in 2011, the Corporation stated that there has been a noticeable increase in the spate of attacks on crude oil, products, and gas pipelines since the expiration of the first community-based contract in 2012 leading to frequent production shut-ins and deferrals of gas supply to power plants.

“The pipeline protection contract is part of our community engagement programme across our host communities aimed at getting community members to help in the task of protecting the pipelines around their communities.

“It would be recalled that while the earlier pipeline protection contract to the communities which lasted from 2011 to 2012 subsisted, breaches to our pipelines were minimal which conduced to the rise in production. The recent rise in the frequency and intensity of willful attacks on our pipelines dictates that we step up our community engagement programme to help stem the tide of the pipeline vandalism scourge,” the NNPC stated.

It added that, “In the current programme, we have not only renewed the contracts for the three initial community-based companies involved in the 2011 contract, we have extended the programme to five other community-based companies in other states where we have a high concentration of pipelines stretching from the Niger Delta to the Ondo, Ogun, Oyo and Lagos States.

“The contracts do not in any way obviate or undermine the responsibility of the police and other security agencies to protect the pipelines. They are actually designed to complement the work of the security agencies by raising the alarm and drawing the attention of security agencies to any suspicious movements around the pipelines right of way,” the Corporation stated.

Meanwhile, earlier reports reaching SweetcrudeReports indicated that the Presidency is believed to have directed the Police and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to quit the job for the ‘local pipeline defence’ companies, which have been signed on by the government.

The companies are owned by some former Niger Delta militants and prominent citizens including ex-militants Government Tompolo, Mujaheedin Asari-Dokubo and Chief Bipobiri Ajube (aka Gen. Shoot-At-Sight).

There is also founder of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) Dr. Frederick Fasehun who said last night that his company was being considered for the multi-billion naira contract.

The OPC National co-ordinator, Otunba Gani Adams, who is also said to be part of the deal, declined comments last night, saying he was at a meeting.

The contract is estimated at billions of naira and the takeover by the companies is said to be with effect from March 16.

Speaking recently at an event, the Group Executive Director in charge of Gas and Power, Dr. David Ige, said vandalism was one of the biggest threats to NNPC operations and aspiration of the Federal Government.

Ige noted that, “Over the last six months, we have been confronted with over 50 cases of pipeline attacks across the crude oil pipeline and gas pipelines.

“The latest, which just happened about 24 hours ago, is on the Lagos-Escravous pipeline. Each of these attacks caused us significant amount of money to repair.”

According to Ige, “The pipelines are located in a very difficult terrain to access. If there is an attack on the pipeline, the logistic of getting it repaired is expensive.

“We continue to bear the cost of this, which we consider to be unnecessary.

“We are struggling with this problem. Since January alone, we have seen more attacks more than often.”

Ige further explained that the last time the NNPC engaged “community services”, which involved using local people to protect the pipelines, was in 2012.

“True, we have technological solutions, but response is where the difficulty lies. Often, when we discover attacks on pipelines in very remote locations, it is hard to mobilise resources to such locations in real time due to the remote nature of the location.

“That is why we need to have partners on the ground, within the communities, who provide the physical presence. But the last I know of such an an arrangement was in 2012, ” he added.

About the Author