NNPC chief raises alarm over pipeline vandalization

Jan 14, 2007 01:00 AM

The Group Managing Director (GMD) of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Engr. Funsho Kupolokun, has raised alarm over the spate of vandalization of the corporation's pipelines.
This comes as Shell Petroleum Development Company (SDPC) announced that it successfully put out fires at well-heads 41 and 50 all in Ogoniland which had been a source of verbal warfare between it and the host community.

Kupolokun, who visited Ijegun Imore, in Ojo Local Government area of Lagos, where another pipeline was vandalized, stated that he has met with the Inspector General of Police and the Assistant Inspector General in the zone on the modalities to stem the tide. Describing the act as evil, Kupolokun said pumping of petroleum product to Mosimi depot, which services Lagos and its environs, has been suspended due to the recent act which he said took place.
He regretted that it took the corporation 14 days to get the line back on stream only for it to be vandalized again shortly after it resumed pumping.

Stating the need to arrest the ugly incident, the NNPC boss explained that once a pipeline was vandalized, pumping to Mosimi would have to be suspended, noting that these lines in Lagos are very important because the corporation rely on them for 80 % importation.
"It is important that they leave these pipelines alone. We should please leave these pipelines alone. The issue of vandalism is very bad… I was informed yesterday and I said I must come and see things myself. I have spoken with the IG and the AIG and the police and NNPC are working very closely in this problem. We all agreed that the police will help us to monitor the pipelines 24 hours. Whatever they (police) want, we are ready to put all the resources that are required on the table. We are going to intensify campaign against vandalization" the visibly worried Kupolokun said.

According to him, as a temporary measure, the corporation, for now is diverting the vessels to private depots, pending the time the problem would be addressed. On the President's directives that the pipelines should be buried deeper to prevent further occurrences, the GMD explained that the corporation was planning to relay the lines merely through the offshore area, assuring that within the next one year, everything would be put in place.
Kupolokun also confirmed that the lines have not been restored.

Meanwhile, the police in the area have arrested three persons in connection with the act. The trio, Ajibola Johnson, Taofik Salami and Sina were alleged to have been arrested while scooping fuel from the vandalized pipe.
Although they maintained their innocence, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) in charge of operation at the State Police Command, insisted that the suspects were apprehended following a tip-off. He assured that the police would explore every available strategy to ensure that the act becomes a thing of the past.

At the Ijegun Imore site, fuel flowed freely like water, even as residents claimed that the pipeline was ruptured and not vandalized. A source claimed that the pipeline was supposed to be replaced after seven years, but that the particular pipe was about 20 years old.
Worried by the problem in petroleum products distribution in the country, Obasanjo directed that every major marketer, including the NNPC must build a mega station in Abuja within the next 12 months. Also, Kupolokun listed the measures taken to address the situation to include; community policing paid for by NNPC, posting of Mobile task force along pipelines, engaging the Nigerian Security & Civil Defence Corps to provide intelligence, as well as cooperation from Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and PTD with NNPC on establishing anti-vandalization committees to identify and report vandals.

Kupolokun stated that vandalization of pipelines was principally responsible for hiccups being experienced in petroleum products supply.
"Vandalism of products pipelines is now predominantly in three axes that are very crucial to petroleum products distribution in the country i.e. the Atlas Cove -- Mosimi, Abuja -- Suleja and Port Harcourt-Aba-Enugu-Makurdi. For instance, Port Harcourt which recorded about 600 line beaks in 2003 had about 1,650 line breaks from January to September 2006, while Warri area moved from only 100 line breaks to 600 during the same period. Also Mosimi area which recorded only 50 line breaks in 2003 reported about 375 between January and September 2006. Even Kaduna and Gombe areas where line breaks were an unusual occurrence in the past have caught the bug," he said.

He regretted that both Kaduna and Warri Refineries have been down since February 8, 2006 as a result of vandalism of the Escravos- Warri pipeline that transports crude oil to both refineries. According to him, prior to the vandalization, both refineries operated at about 75 % of capacity utilization, producing some 8 mm litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) per day, noting that the development left only Port Harcourt Refinery as the sole source of domestic production.
"Consequently, NNPC had to resort to massive importation to meet the shortfall arising from production loss from Warri and Kaduna Refineries. Thus, import facilities became over-stretched as there is a limit to the volume the import facilities can handle with both refineries down. Normally, in the event of small supply disruption, our strategic reserves are triggered from the various depots. However, as a result of prolonged restoration of vandalized pipelines, our strategic reserves have gone done in a few cases" he explained.

In a related development, the SDPC announced the successful putting out of fires reported at well heads 41 and 50 all in Ogoniland. The fire had been a source of verbal warfare between the company and the host community. However, the management of SPDC complained that they were not allowed to block the source of leakage of the hydrocarbons into the environment and warned of the possibility of another fire when the environment gets saturated.
According to the company, the people of K-dere have so far not allowed access for the company to do the proper job that would forestall future occurrence. They expressed gratitude to the Government of Rivers State and the Chairman of Gokana Local Government for their roles in creating a conducive environment for the fire to be put out.

"However, the company is concerned that its technical team was prevented from stopping the leakage of gas and oil from the two wells. This portends grave danger to the environment and lives around the site, because flammable liquids and gas are leaking into the environment.”
"An effective step to controlling a burning well-head includes stopping the source of leakage of gas and oil that fed the fire. With the well-head fires extinguished, the environment will soon be saturated with oil and gas. This exposes the environment and the people of the area to the danger of uncontrollable fire", Shell warned.

The fire was reported on January 3, and the company claimed it immediately dispatched its technical team to the place but alleged that they were denied access before a trade-off was achieved and they battled to put it out. However, the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) had denied the charge of not being allowed access by the oil company as cheap blackmail meant to tarnish its image. They rather accused SPDC of killing the wells by setting fire on them because of a possible withdrawal of the prospecting rights in the area so that any one inheriting them would get nothing out of the wells.
MOSOP alleged that Shell's action was a calculated economic sabotage on the nation and its environment and threatened to drag SPDC before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Source: Vanguard
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