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NNPC to use drones to monitor pipelines, check oil theft

Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Dr Emmanuel Kachikwu has disclosed that drones will now be used to check oil theft.

He spoke at a one-day seminar on Security in the Gulf of Guinea, organised by the Gusau Institute in Abuja.

According to the NNPC boss, drones will be used to monitor the pipelines as well as patrol the country’s coastal waters. He added that other measures put in place to check oil theft include equipping and increasing the capabilities of the security services to carry out their responsibilities and the engagement of communities to police pipelines in their areas.

While promising to introduce transparency in  running the NNPC, Dr Kachikwu revealed that the PPMC would be broken up into several companies with one solely in charge of pipelines while another would be in charge of products at the depots

He said: “Oil theft is a major issue for us. We lose on average of about 50,000 barrels of oil. We lose about $3-$4 billion of revenue and that is just in terms of crude oil itself. When you get to pipelines, most of our pipelines are ruptured and attacked fairly frequently. Last year alone, between June 2014 and June 2015, we recorded between 3,400 to 4,000 attacks on the various pipelines in the country. The effect is a shut-in of about 250,000 barrels a day and when you calculate that, you have a net loss of over $7 billion.


“The pipelines that traverse our country which are supposed to carry crude into our refineries are perpetually harassed and the net effect is that we resorted to using marines to carry cargoes into our refineries. What it meant is that no matter what you do with our refineries today, unless that is solved, we cannot operate the refineries. Every month, I sit and try to decide whether I should move crude to the refineries or sell the crude and be able to fund the other accounts. The marine services are too expensive for me.

“In the last one year, we have lost about 350 lives — NNPC staff, policemen, community members —  as a result of attempts to breach these pipelines”

He explained: “It is a major concern for the President and a major concern for all of us in the industry and we are focused on trying to find solutions. We have marshaled out an armada of approaches to this which include incorporating drones to check movement within our territorial waters towards the ship; we are looking at logistical ways of changing something at our crude oil loading bays; we are trying to equip the Navy sufficiently, in terms of skills and not in terms of arsenal. We are trying to take the bull by the horns to ensure that they patrol within the maritime zone.

“But more fundamentally, the pipelines that carry oil and crude will have to be policed. The present attempt at policing them has not worked, so we are thinking of changing the personnel, using more of the military but also getting into dealing with the community which ultimately is the best security in dealing with these pipelines, as we try to create more incentives for them to own the pipelines,” he said.

Drones are automated (pilotless) micro aircraft used for security monitoring and surveillance purposes, often described as “eyes in the sky.”

According to the Social Science Research Network, SSRN, drones are “less expensive and more efficient than conventional aircraft at tracking the movements of large numbers of people without their knowledge. The capabilities of onboard instruments like high-resolution cameras, infrared devices, facial recognition systems, and other sensory enhancing technologies will make it virtually impossible to shield oneself from government watch.”


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