Pipeline Vandalism Costs Nigeria’s Oil Sector Billions of Naira

The NNPC spent about N34.47 billion in 18 months to monitor and repair pipelines damaged by vandals.

by Motoni Olodun

Nigeria’s oil sector has lost billions of naira due to the persistent problem of pipeline vandalism, according to a report by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The report revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited spent about N34.47 billion in 18 months monitoring and repairing pipelines damaged by vandals.

Pipeline vandalism is the illegal act of breaking into oil pipelines to steal crude oil or refined products or to sabotage the oil industry’s operations. It is a major challenge for Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and exporter, as it affects the country’s security, economy, and environment.

According to the report, the NNPC recorded 350 pipeline points vandalized in the first half of 2021, with the highest incidents occurring in June. The report also stated that the NNPC spent N22.05 billion on pipeline maintenance and repairs in 2021 and N12.42 billion between January and June 2022.

The NNPC said it has been working hard in collaboration with the local communities and other stakeholders to reduce the menace of pipeline vandalism. The NNPC also said that it has implemented Operation White and the Automated Downstream Operations and Financial Monitoring Centre, which help to track and curb illegal activities such as oil theft and cross-border smuggling.

However, despite these efforts, the NNPC still faces huge losses due to pipeline vandalism. In September 2022, the NNPC reported that oil theft cost the company 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day, or $700 million a month. The NNPC also said it lost N60 billion in revenue in May 2022 due to the shutdown of the Trans Forcados Pipeline, which was attacked by vandals.

Pipeline vandalism is a problem for the NNPC and other oil companies operating in Nigeria. In August 2022, Shell Petroleum Development Company declared force majeure on its Bonny Light crude exports after detecting a leak on its Nembe Creek Trunk Line. The leak was suspected to be caused by vandals using explosives.

Pipeline vandalism also threatens national security and social stability, as it fuels violence and criminality in the Niger Delta region, where most of the oil pipelines are located. Over the years, the region has witnessed several conflicts and agitations, as some militant groups demand a greater share of the oil wealth and environmental justice.

The Nigerian government has tried to address these issues by launching various initiatives, such as the Presidential Amnesty Programme, which offers amnesty and rehabilitation to former militants who renounce violence, and the Niger Delta Development Commission, which aims to improve the socio-economic conditions of the region.

However, these initiatives have been marred by corruption, mismanagement, and lack of accountability, leaving many people in the region dissatisfied and disillusioned. Some analysts have also argued that these initiatives do not address the root causes of pipeline vandalism, such as poverty, unemployment, inequality, and poor governance.

Therefore, there is a need for a more holistic and sustainable approach to tackle pipeline vandalism in Nigeria. This would require a multi-stakeholder collaboration involving the government, the oil industry, the security agencies, the civil society, and the local communities. It would also require a comprehensive legal framework that ensures effective prosecution and deterrence of pipeline vandals.

By addressing pipeline vandalism, Nigeria can protect its vital oil sector from further losses and enhance its revenue generation and economic growth. It can also improve its environmental sustainability and social harmony in the Niger Delta region and beyond.

Source: Business Insider Africa

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