June 24, 2024

Pipeline vandalism: No regret engaging Tompolo’s company – NNPC chief

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…says churches, mosques, security agencies, others stealing Nigeria’s oil

Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, on Tuesday, declared that the Corporation has no regrets engaging the former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Government Ekpemupolo, otherwise known as Tompolo, to guard its oil pipeline network.

Kyari said it’s the right thing to do to use private contractors to fight the menace of oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

According to Kyari, mosques, churches, security agencies, as well as communities where pipelines pass through, are involved in pipeline vandalism and theft of petroleum products.

He said this at the 49th Session of State House Briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team.

Kyari also said that the shutting down of pipelines in the country was deliberate.

He attributed it to the challenges of not operating as a business which result in losses.

He said: “As you may also be aware, because of the very unfortunate acts of vandals along our major pipelines from Atlas Cove all the to Ibadan, and all others connecting all the 37 depots that we have across the country. You know, none of them can take delivery of products today.

“And the reason is very simple. For some of the lines, for instance, from Warri to Benin, we haven’t operated that line for 15 years. Every molecule of product that we put get lost. And of course, you remember the sad incident of fire incident very close to Warri, close to Sapele that killed so many people.

“So, we had to shut it down and as we speak, ladies and gentlemen, the level of losses that we have on our product pipeline, and I’m sure you may have seen it and I’ll invite you at the right time so we can take a look at it jointly.

“You remember that Lagos area? When a fire outbreak happened in one of our pipelines, we discovered that some of the pipelines were actually connected to individuals’ homes.

“And not only that, and with all sensitivity to our religious beliefs, you know, some of the pipelines and some of the products that we found, are actually in churches and in mosques

“That means that everybody is involved. There is no way you will take products, bring in trucks in populated neighbourhoods, load them and leave without everybody else knowing about it.

“That everybody includes members of the community, members of the religious leaders and also and most likely government officials of all natures, including security agencies personnel. They are everywhere.

“And I’ve seen this even in the Niger Delta. There’s no way you would deliver a volume and lose up to 30 per cent and you will continue to put that product in this line.”

Kyari explained that the NNPCL management is building the National Reserve Company, adding that 295 illegal connections were discovered in one line in less than 200 meters.

He stressed that the company with the help of the security agencies and the directive of the Chief of Defense Staff were able to intervene.

Kyari said so far, 30 Speed Boats, 179 Wooden Boats, 37 trucks have been arrested, adding that a decision has been taken not to arrest any longer but to burn such confiscated products.

The NNPCL boss added that 122 persons comprising highly placed individuals have been arrested between April and August and that some of them have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

According to Kyari, 739 Ovens for the illegal crude oil theft have been discovered and some destroyed, stating that also discovered were 344 reservoirs created and 355 Cooking Pots.

He mentioned that the level of illegal business was enormous.

“It simply means the destruction of the environment. We have lost revenue,” he declared.

Speaking further on the decision to hire private contractors to secure its oil pipeline network nationwide, Kyari, explained that the security agencies are doing their part, but that end-to-end pipeline surveillance would require the involvement of private entities and community stakeholders.

“We need private contractors to man the right of way to these pipelines. So, we put up a framework for contractors to come and bid and they were selected through a tender process. And we believe we made the right decision.”

When probed on the details and spirit of the contract, Kyari explained that although the FG was not dealing directly with the Tomopolo, but had signed a contract with a company in which he has interests.

He revealed that the leadership of the NNPC had also borrowed $1 billion from the AFREXIM Bank to fix the country’s refineries, which would result in 90 per cent efficiency.

He stated that the lenders’ conditions for giving out the loan were tied to the productivity of the refineries for them to recoup their money, boasting that NNPC would deliver on the rehabilitation exercise.

Kyari further highlighted that there would not be any importation of petroleum products by the middle of next year.

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