Pipeline Protection: Why we resorted to community enforcers – NNPC

 Oscarline Onwuemenyi 23 March 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja –  The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has explained reasons for its return to the use of local ‘community protection’ for its oil and gas facilities across the country.
NNPC towers

NNPC towers

The corporation had in recent past described its expenditure on the fixing of vandalised pipelines as burdensome and unnecessary.
According to it, ending its original contract with “community services” in the provision of security for oil and gas pipelines, may have led to the current rise in pipeline vandalism across the country.
NNPC announced the return to use of ‘community protection’ in a statement signed by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, in which he called on the media and the public not to read political meanings to the corporation’s operations.
Explaining the rationale behind the renewal of the contract which was first awarded in 2011, Mr. Alegbe 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,” he said.
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.

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