08 September 2015, Abuja – The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has begun consultation with security agencies on how to use drones to monitor the movement of oil bearing vessels across the nation’s territorial waters.
It was learnt that the corporation would partner with the Nigerian military, navy, police and the Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corps for the purpose and would soon commence the deployment of drones in a bid to meet its target of halting oil theft in the next eight months.
Sources at the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the corporation told our correspondent on Sunday that the NNPC had commenced talks with the relevant security agencies, less than one week after the national oil firm’s boss announced the plan.
“The NNPC boss announced last week and the corporation has started meeting the necessary security agencies on the matter. In fact, the drone deployment will be done soon because the target of the corporation is to stop oil theft in the next eight months,” a senior official at the petroleum ministry, who pleaded not to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said.
Last Tuesday, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, announced that the corporation was working towards the deployment of drones across the nation’s territorial waters to monitor the movement of oil bearing vessels.
He expressed worry over the nation’s colossal loss to oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
For instance, Kachikwu said Nigeria recorded between 3,400 and 4,000 attacks on its various pipelines between June 2014 and June 2015, losing over $7bn (about N1.4tn) in the process.
The NNPC boss had said, “Oil theft is a major issue for us. We lose on average about 50,000 barrels of oil. We lose about $3-$4bn of revenue and that is just in terms of crude oil itself. The effect is a shut-in of about 250,000 barrels a day, and when you calculate that, you have a net loss of over $7bn.
“We are launching an armada of approaches, which will include the incorporation of drones to check the movement of vessels within Nigeria’s territorial waters.”
When contacted on the planned meeting with the security agencies, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, confirmed to our correspondent that the firm was strengthening arrangements with the various security agencies on the matter.
In a text message response to an enquiry on the subject, Alegbe said, “We’d keep you posted on developments once we firm up arrangements with the relevant security agencies.”
He had during a previous telephone conversation with our correspondent explained how the corporation was protecting the country’s crude oil pipelines in the interim since the cancellation of various protection contracts with its contractors, stressing that the NNPC had engaged security agents in the different communities where the facilities run through.
“We have the police, the military and we also engage with community-based groups. And it is not as if the pipelines were left unprotected. We have the military, the civil defence and the police, and some leaders of communities that are bordering some of these pipelines have been involved in the protection process,” Alegbe had said.