Determined to stamp out the menace of crude oil theft, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited says it has established a monitoring platform to track all marine movements of vessels conveying stolen crude oil from the country.
The virtual platform would be wired to receive, collate and send information from concerned individuals and members of the public to alert the relevant security agencies about incidents of pipeline vandalism in the oil producing areas.
Also, the platform would provide information that would help end-users of Nigerian crude oil internationally, particularly refiners and traders, validate that the blend of crude oil and other petroleum products they handle from Nigeria are from genuine sources.
The Group Chief Executive of NNPC, Mele Kyari, who disclosed this on Friday in Abuja said the new electronic platform could be accessed by the public through https://www.stopcrudetheft.com/.
He said this was part of the industry response to the challenge of sabotage of oil facilities by vandals stealing the country’s crude oil.
He said although the NNPC has already put up a very robust framework to contain these menaces, there were still ongoing activities of vandals and oil thieves on its pipelines and assets, with visible evidences in the growing number of illegal refineries and illegal insertions into its pipeline networks.
Apart from massive actions by the government through the security agencies, Kyari said the NNPC would continue to respond through collaborative efforts with security agencies and its partners, to give operators the right of way to do business.
Through the collaboration with security operatives, he disclosed that several arrests have been made by the Nigerian Navy, while Nigerian armed forces have in the last three months destroyed a number of illegal refineries and removed several connections from the NNPC pipelines.
“We will not stop there. There must be collaboration with the communities and other Nigerians in the area about illegal crude oil theft,” he said.
At the international level, when this crude oil is stolen, it is taken to the market. With no refinery operating in Nigeria today, it means the stolen oil is taken to a refinery somewhere outside the country. Those refineries have an obligation to ensure that they buy Nigerian crude from credible sources that they can validate. If they don’t do that, it means they are also part of the perpetrators of the crime.
With the platform, Kyari said members of the oil communities and other members of the public would be able to report to the government whenever and wherever incidences of crude oil theft or vandalism occur.
He assured whistleblowers whose reports are found credible of a handsome reward by the NNPC, while their identities and information would be kept confidential and private.
He said companies have an obligation to report suspicious sale of Nigeria’s crude oil abroad based on the unique registration numbers usually issued by the NNPC and confirmed by the regulatory authority, the Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).
Considering that every barrel of crude oil that leaves the country has a unique registration number, the NNPC Group CEO said the destination framework was currently being dawn up by the NUPRC to aid the process of validation of the Nigerian crude oil.
Whenever non-validated reports about Nigerian crude oil blends are received, Kyari said the international traders and refiners have an obligation to report to the necessary authorities anywhere in the world.
“If they do not do this, then it would be taken that the culprit is part of the international ring of crude oil thieves stealing Nigerian crude oil. Whenever we discover this, we will take necessary actions against the culprits,” Kyari said.
Urging NNPC partners to cooperate with the company to rid the industry of the menace of crude oil theft and vandalism, Kyari said ending the twin menace would be impossible without international collaboration.
“It is impossible for any refinery to take any crude oil they do not know the source. Refineries are designed to process certain specific grades of crude oil. They know the crude oil they are processing. If it is from Nigeria, every refinery knows it is from Nigeria. It is their duty to validate this, because every cargo that leaves this country has its unique number.
On the total coordination process centre set up by the NNPC, Kyari said this would establish a line of sight around all marine movements of crude oil vessels in the country.
He said a functional control centre has been created to see everything done in all oil production locations in the country, while efforts are being made to upgrade to a level where every camera in every oil production facility by all oil and gas producers in the country would become visible at the control centre.
On how the system works, Kyari said whenever any wrong movement of vessels are discovered, it would be reported to the Nigerian Navy to intercept.
“This has led to several arrests in recent times. We have curtailed the illegal activities of marine thieves to a large extent.
With the line of sight, we have visibility around all our partners’ operations.
On following the cash from illegal crude oil theft, he said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is on the trail of every person related to the crude oil theft transactions, whether within the oil companies, NNPC, security agencies, or wherever massive movement of cash is found.
“EFCC will follow the owners. This also kicking off immediately.
We believe that the combination of all these will restore normalcy in the system and ensure people would see reason not to continue to perpetrate the crime or they pay the price for it,” Kyari said.