The Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) on Tuesday endorsed the N48 billion oil pipeline surveillance contract awarded to a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, by the Federal Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited.
The NNPCL had in September awarded the contract to Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited owned by Tompolo.
The contract, totaling about N4 billion per month, covers Delta, Ondo, Imo and Rivers States and some parts of Bayelsa State.
Senator Albert Bassey Akpan, who chairs the Senate Committee, while addressing newsmen on Tuesday, stated that there was nothing wrong engaging non-state actors to secure oil pipelines inasmuch as the contract was yielding desired results.
Akpan lamented that oil theft wrecked the country’s oil production capacity and had resulted in the loss of about $2 billion this year alone.
He said major export facilities: Bonny and Forcados Terminals, were shut down for over seven months due to pipeline vandalism and oil theft.
The Senator, however, submitted 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 Forcados 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 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.”
(TheEagle Online, excluding headline)