Senate Backs N48bn Pipeline Surveillance Contract Awarded to Tompolo’s Company

•Says initiative will boost nation’s revenue 

•Concludes probe without naming thieves

Sunday Aborisade in Abuja

The Senate yesterday expressed support for the N48 billion pipeline surveillance contract awarded to a firm owned by Mr. Government Ekpemupolo (a.k.a Tompolo).

The N48 billion pipeline surveillance contract was awarded by the federal government to Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, a private maritime security firm founded by Ekpemupolo, an erstwhile Commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

The Tompolo-owned firm was expected to protect all oil pipelines criss-crossing nearly all the states in the Niger Delta.

The N4 billion per month contract that covers Delta, Ondo, Imo and Rivers and some parts of Bayelsa had attracted oppositions from some stakeholders.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa Ibom), said there was nothing wrong engaging non-state actors to secure oil pipelines in as much as the contract was yielding desired results.

He said oil theft wrecked the country’s oil production capacity and had resulted in the loss of about $2 billion this year alone.

The Senator said major export facilities, the Bonny and Forcados Terminals were shut down for over seven months due to pipeline vandalism and oil theft.

He noted that the recent pipeline surveillance contract to address oil theft was yielding positive results as the country’s oil production capacity has increased.

He said, “There are both formal and informal approaches to solving the issue. If that contract was contracted duly and processed, we don’t have any issue with it and if it yields desired outcomes, I don’t think there is anything wrong in it

“We commend the NNPCL for the action. As we speak, the Forcado terminals have restored 500,000 barrels a day to our national production.

“Just about five days ago, the first 87,000 barrels a day was received at the Bonny terminals. So, things are getting better.

“This means that the abridged intervention done recently by government have yielded positive results because the production would have been shortened and you could imagine the effect on investment because investors will hold back if they cannot derive maximum profits from their investments.

“The government has not attracted desired investment in the oil and gas industry despite the PIA because what is being produced is being stolen.”

The ad-hoc committee, after the investigation, failed to disclose those behind crude oil theft, but instead said all stakeholders must accept collective responsibility for what have befallen the country’s oil and gas industry.

Akpan said apportioning blame would not curb oil theft.

The panel, in its recommendations, said, “Curtailing crude oil theft should be a collective responsibility thereby well-meaning members of the public must be encouraged to report illegal activities and transactions in stolen crude oil that may come to their knowledge from any part of the world.

“Nigeria should seek international financial collaboration to check illegal Letters of Credit used to fund the sale and purchase of Nigeria stolen crude, as such illegal crude sales can only be transacted through the world financial system.”

It also urged the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to deploy an online real time monitoring system across all upstream oil and gas production platforms to ensure accurate measure of production volume.

He said, “When it comes to stealing we must all accept collective responsibility, as ad-hoc committee we could not even recommend capital punishment.

“The coming of the Petroleum Industry Act had envisaged that all the issues about the host communities’ benefits and all that would have to be addressed.

“However, when you see the huge theft and the volume involved it kills the real essence of what the host community trust fund was meant to achieve.

“Based on record the country has lost N22 billion from January to date. How much is our deficit of the country if we lose $2 billion that is almost N1.3 trillion that would have taken care of our fiscal deficit and enhance the implementation of the capital budget.

“We cannot allow criminals to bring the country to its knees. I believe the committee has done an extensive work

“We are not here to apportion much blame, because when you do that you don’t get anything solved.

“Everybody must take their responsibility; the executive must also take responsibility. Because you cannot explain where an 8inch pipeline is inserted to a 6inch oil pipeline in to 8km into the high sea.

“It is a cartel all over the world it is not only in Nigeria. The criminals with so much money at their disposal they can bring down the country. “

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