The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited- NNPCL has revealed that they discovered an illegal oil pipeline connected into the sea and used in stealing crude oil.
The operation had been going on for nine years before it was discovered by security operatives.
The revelation was made by NNPCL managing director, Mr Mele Kyari who was appearing before the Senate ad hoc committee on oil theft in Nigeria.
Kyari narrated how the four-kilometre or 2.5-mile connection from the Forcados export terminal, which typically exports around 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, into the sea was found during a clampdown on theft in the past six weeks.
“Oil theft in the country has been going on for over 22 years but the dimension and rate it assumed in recent times is unprecedented,” Kyari told the lawmakers.
He added, “But in rising to the highly disturbing challenge, NNPC has in recent times in collaboration with relevant security agencies clamped down on the economic saboteurs.
“In the course of the clampdown within the last six weeks, 395 illegal refineries have been deactivated, 274 reservoirs destroyed, 1,561 metal tanks destroyed, 49 trucks seized.
“The most striking of all is the four-kilometre illegal oil connection line from Forcados Terminal into the sea which had been in operation undetected for nine solid years.”
He further revealed that crude theft has brought down Nigeria’s oil production to around 1.2 million barrels per day from 1.8 million. However, he noted that It was not true that the difference between 1.2 million barrels and its potential budget level of 1.8 million barrels was been stolen.
“To be very precise, we have never seen this level of escalations in our operations. The scale of oil theft, and vandals that we are seeing today is unprecedented, prices of crude oil is so high in the market today, for oil thieves to operate.
”But we have put a structure of security hovering around our partners, all the government security agencies, we have set up security private contractors.
“Because the Brass, Forcados and the Bonny terminals, all of them are practically doing zero production today, the combined effect is that you have lost 600,000 barrels per day, when you do a reality test.
“But we hope to restore production to the Forcados terminal, this is as a result of the security intervention that is ongoing,” he said.
Bashir Jamoh, director general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, said Thursday at a weekly ministerial meeting in Abuja that plans were underway to deploy round-the-clock surveillance to watch for oil theft. He said the operation would include manned and unmanned aircraft, helicopters, ships and armored vehicles, all connected to a headquarters known as the C4i Center.
Jamoh said selected officers from the agency were undergoing three weeks of training in Italy to enable them operate the aircraft. He said the drones “can move up to 100 kilometers and can remain 10 hours in one place, taking data and sending it to our own operations centers for possible intervention.”