Journalism of Courage

NNPC deploys state-of-the-art surveillance technology, tracks crude oil theft, vandalism

“On an average, 35 incidences are reported daily. These incidences are categorized and can be reported by the operators through an internal mechanism or a member of the community through the whistle-blowing portal which is accessible on the internet,” -Bala Wunti, Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS)

As Nigeria continues to grapple with crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism with its attendant effects on the economy, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPCL) Ltd has deployed state-of-the-art technology to checkmate the menace.

Persecondnews reports that Nigeria has been unable to meet its OPEC production quantum of 1.99 million barrels per day with the current production level of 1.4 million barrels per day, but loses 700,000 barrels of crude daily to oil theft and production shut-in caused by pipeline vandalism.

Also, in the first quarter of this year, Nigeria was reported to have lost over $1billion in revenue to crude oil theft.

The Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Mr Bala Wunti, disclosed this while leading newsmen on a tour to the Command and Control Centre, also known as the Central Coordination, Data Integration and Activation Control Room.

The tour of the centre which has been up and running for the past six months afforded them the opportunity of watching how the NNPC Ltd and critical stakeholders monitor activities of the oil and gas infrastructure daily.

According to Wunti, the Centre which is equipped with state-of-the-art technology uses video surveillance to track illegal activities going on in the water and monitor its pipelines carrying crude oil from wells to flow stations.

“This center monitors every facet of our oil and gas be it in the deep water, shallow water, swamp and on the ocean. This centre is being manned by young professionals and we try to keep them away from the public because of the security sensitivity of this infrastructure.

“With this technology, we will be able to track illegal activities going on in the water. We have collaborative platform with NIMASA, NICOMSAT, the Nigerian Navy and every other stakeholder, to be able to do what we need to do. It is not that we lack capability to do what any country would do, we have it.

“Through this technology, we have the capability to see the vessels that are loading crude. We can see the vessels anywhere they are going and we can from this room determine if they are carrying out legitimate transaction on our coastal waters.

“The intelligence system is capturing what is happening in real time and from what you are seeing at the centre, you will agree with me that we don’t have shortage in intelligence gathering. The challenge may well be capability and capacity of the security operatives to respond to the intelligence provided.

“There is also the ability of the digitized monitoring system to locate all vessels on the territorial waters in Nigeria.

“On an average, 35 incidences are reported daily. These incidences are categorized and can be reported by the operators through an internal mechanism or a member of the community through the whistle-blowing portal which is accessible on the internet,” Wunti explained.

On the effectiveness of the technology, the GGM NAPIMS disclosed that through the surveillance, 112 suspects have been arrested while 11 vehicles, 30 speed boats, 179 wooden boats, 37 trucks have been seized and destroyed.

He added that other items recovered are 959 metal tanks, 737 ovens, 452 dugout pits, 342 reservoirs and 355 cooking pots have been destroyed.

Also speaking on terminal activities, crude oil theft and challenges, the GGM Crude Oil Marketing Division of NNPC Ltd, Rose Eshiette, noted that Nigeria not only loses in volume but also in pricing.

“The impact is there; low crude oil production and crude oil product losses. Even the few barrels, when we take to the market the buyers are very skeptical to buy because apart from the volume not being there, the pricing of it is also affected,” she said.

On his part, the Executive Director, Distribution Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Mr Ogbugo Ukoha, said Nigeria will soon achieve a zero oil theft.

“The theft that is being talked about happens outside the terminals within the trunk lines where there are punctures and this has forced operators to begin to approach the authority and the commission increasing request for barging or trucking permits as an alternative to pipelines.

“It is important for us always bear in mind that pipelines are actually universally the cheapest way to transport oil. So we can never underscore the need for the pipeline integrity and security.

“Technology can play a role, the security agencies, operators as well also have a role to play. There is a correlation between the price of crude and the increase in thefts.

“In the previous years when crude price was near zero, the motivation was quite low, but the constant hit we are seeing now is because of the geo-political problem that has pushed price in excess of $100.

“So, that provides some kind of motivation to those who have been doing this very reprehensible acts,” he said.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Sign up here to get the latest news, updates and special offers delivered directly to your inbox.
You can unsubscribe at any time

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. AcceptRead More