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Pipeline Protection: Imperative of Sustaining The Gains

BY EGUONO ODJEGBA

At the recent commissioning of Dangote Refinery, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of the Dangote Group proudly stated that the petroleum refinery is expected to meet the needs of Nigerian consumers and that of her proximate countries.

This is even as he unequivocally hinted very early in the day about the need for strategic import of complementary crude oil type from within and outside the continent, to meet the required quantity to be able to operate at installed capacity.

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While it is instructive that above strategic planning as it appertains to import of crude oil to balance the volume required to keep the refinery and its projected outputs running efficiently, the continuous protection of Nigeria’s crude oil distribution network without undivided attention, focus and commitment cannot be wished away, or indeed be treated as of secondary importance.

It is for this reason that kudos must be given to former President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) in the person of Engr. Kyari Melee, for contracting the protection of petroleum and crude pipelines in the Niger Delta region to Tantita Security Services (TSS), owned by former Niger Delta socio-economic agitator, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

Since the contract began in July 2022, official reports indicate that crude oil theft has scaled down significantly, leading to the restoration of Nigeria’s OPEC quota production which has been on all time low, following crude oil theft, hitherto.

Nigeria’s OPEC quota plus of course the Dangote Refinery projected 53m lpd gasoline, 34m lpd diesel, 10m lpd kerosene and 2m lpd aviation fuel, respectively, depends wholly and  largely on the availability and stability of crude production and supply.

If the stability confidence rating by TSS last week is anything to go bye, Nigeria and indeed the future of Dangote Refinery will continue to be bright; which is the more reason the recorded gains in the significant reduction in crude oil theft must not only be sustained but improved upon.

Appraising its performance since inception last year, TSS Executive Director Operations & Technical Services, Capt. Warredi Enusoh attributed the successes in the pipelines protection and reduction of crude oil theft to the collaborative effort of the army, navy and other security agencies.

Kyari, GMD, NNPCL

Speaking during a business programme on Channels Television, Capt. Enusoh said the protection of the pipelines has stopped the erosion of the nation’s wealth, in addition to restoring the hitherto fragile ecosystem of the oil rich region owing to environmental pollution aided by illegal pipelines connection and tapping points.

He hinted that plan is afoot to take pipeline protection a notch higher with the introduction of technology base surveillance and deterrence system; to which he said the continued collaboration of the federal government is key.

His words: “We have destroyed illegal connections going to their thousands, because literally every pipeline known to be active have had illegal connections on them. We don’t want a situation whereby we are going to react to people building illegal refineries or building illegal connections to the pipelines.

“We want to prevent that, so the phase two is technology based, and anything that is technology based at high level is expensive, so we want the incoming administration to support us in such a way that we will be able to put such technology in place.”

Tompolo

Speaking on the role of the security agencies in the success story, he said, “It is impossible to be able to do this job without our gallant security forces, the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Security and Civil Denfece Corp, Air Force, Police, even the DSS, alongside those who support us with required intelligence.

“Our rivers are becoming cleaner, people are beginning to have their source of livelihood back, (with) the decision of the NNPCL and the approval by the presidency and with the support of the security forces, we have been able to regain Nigeria’s position as Africa’s largest crude oil producer.”

Capt. Enusoh

It will be recalled that the Kyari led NNPCL intervention has unlocked a fresh 30,000 barrels per day crude oil production at the OML 130 field operated by Total Energies Upstream Nigeria Limited (TUPNI).

Deputy Managing Director of Total Energies, Deepwater Asset, Mr. Victor Bandel who made the disclosure recently, said the protection of the pipelines by NNPCL in collaboration with TSS has assisted in arresting production decline of the asset; even as they look forward to the unlocking of up to 30,000 barrels per day of new oil from the Egina and Akpo fields before the end of the year, 2023.

Few weeks ago, NNPCL in collaboration with TSS raided an illegal crude oil storage facility reportedly operated by Mawe Services Limited along a border community between Delta and Bayelsa State, said to be involved in crude oil smuggling under the disguise of sewage management.

According to Tantita, the crude oil thieves were arrested on Friday, May 12, after two weeks of intelligence gathering and monitoring, adding that the suspects have been handed over to the security forces.

According to Captain Warredi Enisuoh, his team who were monitoring activities of Mawe at the said jetty swooped on one of the sewage truck with registration number JR7750XA, after a number of suspicious trips to the jetty. He said upon examination it was discovered that the tank was loaded with crude oil and not sewage.

Enusoh said, “The driver later revealed the destination of the contents, which took us to another yard inland, operated by Mawe Services Limited. Within the Mawe Services Limited’s premises, there were two metallic cylindrical tanks of about 45,000 liters capacity, each.

“Both tanks were inspected, and one was found to be filled up with Crude Oil. An inspection of the Yard Security logbook showed that the truck visited the location severally and the contents of the truck were well spelt out as “crude”.

It is expected that President Ahmed Tinubu government will reinforce the existing collaboration between NNPCL and TSS, and expand the scope of innovations required to continue to improve on their operations.

It also goes without gainsaying that with the advent of Dangote Refinery, the NNPCL and TSS will enjoy the required robust collaboration and partnership which is expected to grow the recorded benefits of secured pipelines and crude oil production stability.

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