GMD of NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu
Yakubu laments unending pipeline vandalism
Chineme Okafor in Abuja and Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos â€¨
Despite concerted efforts to put out the fire emanating from the vandalised pipeline of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), at Ijeododo, a suburb in Lagos State, THISDAY checks revealed that the flame is still raging.
This was as the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, yesterday disclosed that the unending incidents of pipeline hacking and product theft is currently posing great danger to efficient distribution and supply of petroleum products in some parts of the country.
Although, the rescue team from the corporation had hoped to put out the fire on Tuesday, it was gathered yesterday that their inability stemmed from the fact that the burning pipeline was made inaccessible by the swamp surrounding it.
At the scene of the explosion, fire fighters from the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC, were seen with their equipment battling the flames.
However, to limit the loss of petroleum products, the PPMC was said to have switched off the flow passing through the burning pipeline.
When contacted, the spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in the South-west, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said some personnel of NEMA and NNPC finally located the source of the explosion after a gruelling exertion.
He said: “NEMA and NNPC officials reached the source of the pipeline fire at 2 p.m. as the fire has done extensive damage to the area.
“To control the situation, we have constructed catway bridge to the point of explosion which continues to aid the movement of the specialised fire fighting equipment.
“The coordinate location of the fire is N0 6.48024, E003. 25475 degrees, while the coverage area is about six metres radius of the major fire.
“There are four smaller points. Also, in our rescue and search operation, there was no sign of casualties at all.”
Against all odds, the Director General said there was every possibility to stop the fire by midnight as the combined operations would continue through the night.
Meanwhile, Yakubu who made the decalaration in his reaction to the pipeline vandalism in Ije-Ododo, said such nefarious activities of pipeline vandals could cripple the smooth operation of the downstream sector of the country’s petroleum industry if left unchecked.
Yakubu, who declared open the third Triennial Delegates Conference of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) in Abuja, noted in a statement from the acting General Manager Public Affairs of the corporation, Mr. Fidel Pepple, that less than one week after the vital system 2B was restored after extensive repair work on the ruptured Arepo point, the corporation had been compelled to shut the line owing to Monday’s attack on the Ije-ododo point.
He said: “We had over 774 break points since August 2012 from Atlas Cove to Ilorin depot.
Between Atlas Cove and Mosimi Depot, we recorded 181 break points, from Mosimi to Ibadan, we had 421ruptured points and from Mosimi to Ore, we recorded 50 vandalised points. Also between Ibadan and Ilorin, we had a total of 122 break points.”
Yakubu said though the NNPC was working hard to ensure effective distribution of petroleum products across the country through increased trucking.
He added that the trucking option came with enormous cost which is totally unsustainable.
“PIB or no PIB, privatisation or no privatisation, no industry can survive under this kind of arrangement,” he declared.
The NNPC stated in the statement that records indicated that the incessant attacks on the nation’s vast artery of pipelines, about 70 per cent of products distribution in the country is now done through trucking or what is known in the industry parlance as bridging into the hinterlands.
It further explained that the option required massive fleets of petroleum product trucks of up to 1,212 trucks load out from the depots every day to meet the daily estimated national consumption.
“At an average vehicle turnaround of about 8-10 days from the South to the North and return, a minimum of 10,000 trucks are required to ply the roads daily,” Yakubu added.
Yakubu also stated that despite the challenge posed by the shut-down of the system 2B line as a result of the attack, he still remained optimistic that Nigerians would not suffer undue hardship related to scarcity of petrol during the yuletide season.
While calling on Nigerians across board from the community to local government and up to state government levels to embrace protection of pipelines, Yakubu explained that: “These are critical national assets and we must begin to see them in that light.”
Meanwhile, the PPMC has said it was assessing the status of the vandalised section of it pipeline network at Ije-Ododo to ascertain the extent of damage on it.
The Manager, Public Affairs and External Relations of PPMC, Mr. Nasir Imodagbe, confirmed to THISDAY over the phone yesterday in Abuja, that the company was yet to take stock of the extent of damage on the pipeline because it was yet to put out the raging fire from the pipeline but that it would soon puts out the raging fire.
He said: “Right now, I cannot confirm to you the extent of damage on the pipeline because we are yet to even put out the fire that is still raging. As soon as we do that, I am sure we will let the public know the status of the pipeline and subsequent measures to be taken by the company.”
Some suspected oil thieves had invaded a section of the pipeline network at Ije-Ododo, near Ijegun in Iba Local Council Development Area of Lagos State but were reportedly burnt to death by a subsequent fire that broke out while they scooped petrol from the vandalised pipeline.