* Mulls establishment of special ‘Pipeline Security Force’
Omon-Julius Onabu in Asaba
Angered by the high level of destruction to oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta by pipeline vandals, the Federal Government is considering deploying more sophisticated military machinery in the region.
In this vein, the federal government may establish a special security force on pipeline vandalism and other acts of sabotage against oil installations in the troubled region.
Vice President of the federation, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, give these hints in Warri, Delta State weekend after undertaking an on-the-spot assessment of damage to the pipeline in Forcados Terminal in the state.
He said the activities of pipeline vandals were as inimical to the nation’s socio-economic life as any form of terrorism. He acknowledged the damage control initiatives by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to cushion the effect of the vandalism but stressed that severe and far-reaching measures were required to deal with the situation.
The vice-president, who was accompanied on the visit by Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, and other senior federal and state government officials, expressed sadness at the extent of damage done to the oil facility by the criminals.
Fielding questions from newsmen on his impression after the visit to the Forcados terminal, Osinbajo noted that vandalism has had incalculable negative impact on gas supply to the country’s power station and thereby drastically reduced the ability of the station to function effectively.
The vice-president said, “The damage done has led to low supply of gas and most of the power plants are not functioning to maximum capacity. We went to Forcados to see for ourselves the sabotage done to our pipelines. We have seen the alternative steps that the NNPC is taking in order to ameliorate the damage that has been done and the problem associated with getting gas from that terminal to all of our plants.
“Aside from the gas problem, there is also the problem of losing thousands of barrels of production. We are not able to produce as much as we ought to. About 250,000 barrels are lost per day. We are losing large sums of money daily. We look for alternative while we look forward to repairing the pipelines.
“There is a lot of effort being made by the Federal Government and (Delta) State Government as well as communal help. We must meet current vandalism challenges but also look into what we can do in the future. We would have to deploy even sophisticated weapons to ensure we contain the vandalism, overhaul of security and a permanent pipeline security force might also be an option to look at.”
Governor Okowa also noted that Forcados Terminal was of strategic importance to both Delta State and the federal government because of the role it plays in the country’s crude oil export as well as in the supply of gas for generation of power.
He lamented that the state was losing a lot of revenue due to pipeline vandalism through drastic reduction in the quantum of oil derived from the state by the federal government, besides the gas depletion created for the different power plants.
He, however, expressed the hope that with the federal government’s intervention and assurances, necessary repairs could be carried out on the vandalised pipelines by the end of next month.