OpinionOPINION: Combating Oil Theft Remains A Joint Effort Between NNPCL And The...

OPINION: Combating Oil Theft Remains A Joint Effort Between NNPCL And The Navy

GTBCO FOOD DRINL

February 27, (THEWILL) – _“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”_ Henry Ford

I came across the interview of the former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, where he asserted that the lack of coordination between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) and the Nigerian Navy could be impeding the strenuous battle against oil theft.

Quoting the former Senate Minority Leader, “I went to the office of the Chief of Naval Staff. He had this screen in his office. He could see Takwa Bay; see that? And I said to him, ‘Sir, I didn’t know that you had all this. That means we can track this and that. So, what’s the real problem?’

“He said there is no linkage between us and NNPC. So, we don’t know what NNPC is doing.”

I remember vividly that on September 4, 2019, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian Navy pledged to deepen collaboration to tackle the menace of crude oil theft and attacks on oil and gas facilities.

The two organisations came to the resolution when the NNPC Ltd. GCEO, Mallam Mele Kyari, paid a courtesy visit to the former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas (Rtd), at the Naval Headquarters.

Kyari, who applauded the intervention the Navy had brought to ensure sanity to the system in a statement he issued by the then NNPC Ltd’s spokesperson, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, noted that there was a need to do more as crude oil theft was still a potent reality in the nation’s oil and gas industry.

Meanwhile, the then-Navy chief noted that the corporation’s intervention in resolving the challenges to its operations was welcomed.

Reacting to the Chief, Kyari said NNPC Limited was ready to support the Navy in any initiative it could come up with to further check the menace.

Also, on January 19, 2020, NNPC Ltd. GCEO, Mallam Mele Kyari, pledged to work with the Nigerian Navy to stop oil theft.

Mele Kyari said this when he visited the Navy Base Ojo, Lagos State, where he met with the then FOC Rear Admiral Oladele Daji.

In another development, on March 14, 2022, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC Ltd.), Mallam Mele Kyari, paid a courtesy visit to the then-Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, at the Naval Headquarters. The purpose of the visit is to strengthen the working relationship with the Nigerian Navy.

On April 2, 2022, the Nigerian Navy commenced what is evidently its biggest operation aimed at putting an end to oil theft and illegal refining in the Niger Delta, with the deployment of 40 ships, five helicopters, and 200 boats for “Operation Dakatar Da Barawo” (stop the thief) across the region.

On the same day, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC Ltd.), Mallam Mele Kyari, assured Nigerians that with this special naval operation against oil theft in the country, Nigerians would begin to see measurable results in two to three weeks.

The then Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, disclosed that “Operation Dakatar Da Barawo” was in collaboration with Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) and that it confirms the Nigerian Navy and NNPC Ltd’s collective resolute and deep commitments to end the menace of crude oil theft, illegal oil refining, and other insecurity within the nation’s maritime environment.

The then-CNS appreciated the contributions of Kyari and his staff for helping to activate the operation, which he said would last for three months. Gambo stressed that the Nigerian Navy, on its part, has over the years undertaken several operations geared towards ensuring unhindered exploration and exploitation of the nation’s maritime resources for economic growth and national development.

The then-CNS assured that the Nigerian Navy, under his watch, remains committed to eradicating all acts of criminality in Nigeria’s maritime domain and, by extension, the Gulf of Guinea for the economic well-being of the people.

“He assured me that Operation Dakatar Da Bararwo would involve dominating the nation’s backwaters through aggressive and intelligence-driven patrols.”

He added: “It would also be dedicated to monitoring pipelines, blocking identified strategic estuaries to prevent conveyance of stolen crude oil from inshore to sea, and maintaining a credible presence along the coastline of areas prone to crude oil theft.

“This initiative became necessary considering the recent reports of massive revenue losses, which compelled all efforts to be emplaced to curtail the wanton crude oil theft and illegal bunkering of crude oil in the nation’s maritime environment.

“The operation would also involve aerial surveillance as well as the insertion of special forces to conduct clearance operations.

“The vast expanse of the nation’s maritime domain coupled with the limited capability of maritime security and law enforcement agencies, including the complex nature of maritime threats, make it expedient for maritime stakeholders to emplace more robust collaborative engagement to surmount these crude oil thefts, illegal oil refining, and other maritime security challenges.

“We are bringing at least 40 ships, between 100 and 200 Navy boats, and we are deploying between four and five helicopters, some of which will be coming and going throughout the period, and all Navy Special Forces and units will also be involved to make sure the operation is successful.”

On November 2, 2023, the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT discovered and halted the syphoning of petrol from one of NNPCL’s pipelines at Atlas Cove, Lagos.

NNS BEECROFT Commander, Kolawole Oguntuga, said, “The thieves connected hoses and suction pumps to vandalised parts of the pipeline to steal petrol. After halting their activities, the NNPCL was alerted, and repairs on the vandalised parts of the pipeline have gone underway.

“Efforts are ongoing to detect and rectify other potential vulnerabilities along the pipeline to ensure a comprehensive approach to deter future illegal activities,” he said.

On July 17, 2023, the Nigerian navy evacuated the equipment of suspected oil thieves on oil mining lease (OML) 18, in Elem Krakama creek in Degema LGA of Rivers State.

Suleman Ibrahim, Commander of the Nigerian Navy ship (NNS) Pathfinder, said the discovery led to the dismantling of multiple pipelines buried in the ground.

He said the equipment was used in syphoning crude from oil well 17 operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.

The Commander said its patrol helicopter noticed the unlawful activities on July 11, 2023, and that the excavation exercise was done in collaboration with the NNPC.

“We came here with members of NNPC and OML 18 resources; they are the owners of the well,” he said.

“We came with our heavy equipment to make sure we dismantled the illegal structures that were being used to syphon crude illegally.

“A lot of pipes have been recovered from the wellhead, and we have disconnected where they are being connected.

“As an individual, what I have seen here is way beyond what I have seen elsewhere. The level of sophistication is beyond our imagination.

“The individuals involved had taken their time, done a lot of measurements, and did welding on-site.”

He said the cartel involved in the act is being tracked, noting that they will be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.

With the above chronicles of cooperation and operation by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and the Nigerian Navy, it would be wrong for someone to say that there is no linkage between the Nigerian Navy and NNPC Limited.

***Adewole Kehinde is the publisher of Swift Reporters*

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