The Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd, Mallam Mele Kyari, has lamented the spate of oil theft in the country, saying those that engage in the act use technology to lay pipelines.
Kyari, who spoke on Newsnight, a pre-recorded programme on Channels Television, said thieves succeeded in stealing the nation’s crude oil due to collaboration with government and security officials.
Noting that collaboration within the system has aided crude oil theft for a while, the NNPC boss said the extent of such collaboration is unknown to the authorities.
“When you introduce technology into stealing and this is precisely what they did and when there is a collaboration of people who should not be part of that transactions, you can lay pipelines and no one will see it,” he said.
“You can do it in the night if you have the abilities and ultimately, this is what we think happened. You can lay pipelines for the wrong reasons to abandon or active assets. You will see end-to-end collaboration either by people who are around those assets, people operating the assets or people supposed to provide security.
“You can eliminate anything. When you find collaborators in the system, then you can get anything done. We didn’t know because the extent of collaboration is unknown to us.”
On the way forward, the NNPC boss noted that the government has stepped up efforts to tackling the scourge of crude oil thefts.
One of the measures, he explained, is that the authorities backed by other stakeholders now have full surveillance of the nation’s oil infrastructure and are facing this challenge squarely.
Kyari stated that the Federal Government has deployed helicopters for 24-hour surveillance to monitor and protect pipelines.
Oil theft has become a malignant cancer in Nigeria for years with unimaginable volumes of oil being lifted by some cabals in the oil sector. Recently, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited said it uncovered an illegal oil connection from Forcados Terminal that operated for nine years with about 600,000 barrels per day of oil lost in the same period.
Similarly, a former militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as Tompolo, said about 58 illegal oil points have been discovered so far since the operation to end oil theft on the waterways of Delta and Bayelsa states began.