With oil theft and pipeline vandalism overwhelming Nigeria’s oil business in recent weeks, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) has said it is adopting Saudi Aramco’s model of using video surveillance to monitor its pipelines carrying crude oil from wells to flow stations in the Niger Delta.
“We have put up a control centre, it started in April 2022; it’s not yet on the level of the Saudi Aramco control centre that’s circulating in a viral video, but we are on our way there,” Mele Kyari, group chief executive officer of NNPC said at a press briefing at the state house in Abuja on Tuesday.
BusinessDay had reported early this month that the number of idle big-ticket oil and gas projects in Nigeria looked set to rise as massive crude theft that was defying the government’s efforts to curb it had left more operators spooked.
Nigeria sits atop 36 billion barrels of crude oil reserves and 206 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves but has seen a steep decline in investments in the vital oil sector in recent years.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that foreign capital inflow into the sector accounted for 0.04 percent of fresh foreign investments into the Nigerian economy in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the banking and production sectors that contributed 52 percent and 14 percent respectively.
Crude theft and pipeline vandalism have continued to plague the sector for many years, forcing international oil companies operating in the country to sell some of their onshore assets.
The NNPC currently has some video visibility around the country’s Niger Delta pipeline networks, where more than 90 percent of the country’s crude is explored, according to Kyari.
“We are also cooperating with our business partners to make sure every data concerning our assets are visible for us to intervene and control remotely,” he said.
“We have video visibility on our marine operations; we know the exact locations of all our assets using video surveillance. We have what it takes to replicate the Aramco model. Very soon I will invite the audience to visit our data centre,” he added.
Concerning the NNPC’s renewed romance with ex-militants such as Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, Kyari said the state-oil company is engaging private contractors to help secure oil infrastructure in the communities.
“We’re not dealing with Tompolo, we’re dealing with corporate entities that were selected through the requisite tender process. Of course, Tompolo may have an interest within the entities,” Kyari added.
On crude oil theft, Kyari said the company has created a platform for the well-meaning public to report illegal activities and transactions in stolen crude oil from any part of the world.
He said: “We need wider collaboration beyond the industry to fight the evil of crude oil theft that is putting huge resources into the hands of international criminals and terror groups.
“Beyond the small rats, we arrest at locations, we are going after the elites behind the oil theft, and no one will be covered. Our investigations showed oil theft compromises cut across board; there are NNPC workers, oil companies’ staff and security agencies involved in crude oil theft.”
The NNPC disclosed that security operatives discovered 344 illegal oil reservoirs, 355 cooking pots, 759 metal tanks, 37 trucks, 450 boats and 179 holding boxes used by vandals to perform their nefarious activities in the oil-producing regions of the Niger Delta.
Kyari, however, argued that it is not the NNPC’s responsibility to announce the names of those arrested.
He said properties seized from Vandals were burned to disable them from resuming operations.
Fielding questions on the high cost of fuel importation, he revealed that the country will be petrol-sufficient by mid-2023.
He said the Dangote Oil Refinery will produce at least 50 million barrels per day when it begins operations next year, making it unnecessary to import petrol.
On NNPC shares, Kyari revealed that the company will be ready for initial public offering by the middle of 2023.