By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja: Stakeholders in the oil and gas industry, have called for education and empowerment of communities in the Niger Delta region, to curb the high rates of pipeline vandalism in the country.
This was made known on Wednesday at a panel discussion on the topic, “Innovative Strategies –Combating Crude Oil Theft &Pipeline Vandalism”, at the ongoing Nigeria Oil and Gas(NOG) conference 2018.
The Panel which was moderated by Prof, Wumi Illedare, Chirota &Emmanuel Egbogah Distinguished Professor & Director, Emerald Energy Institute, Uniport, Nigeria, hammered on the need for improved relationship between the International Oil Companies (IOCs) and the communities.
The Moderator called for innovative strategy to combat the perennial issue of vandalism, saying that, “We have to address whatever was causing vandalisation. Private partnership and stakeholder relations may be somewhere for us to stop that symptom. There is need to get to the bottom of the reason for vandalism”.
Speaking on the panel, the General Manager – Policy, Government &Public Affairs, Chevron Nigeria, Esimaje Brikinn, stated that vandalism of pipelines degrades the environment, community and affects livelihoods.
He also noted that pipeline breaches leads to loss of production opportunities, which on the other hand, requires funds to fix the breaches, leading to IOCs budgeting extra for such breaches.
On ways to reduce the pipeline breaches, he stressed that building trust and involving communities in the whole process is the key, adding also, that joint visit to the breached site is important, to know which of the breaches is due to criminal activities and those caused by assets failures.
In his word, “If the necessary bodies are doing what they are supposed to do, there will be little of these breaches. Nothing will work if there is no governance around it. Everyone has to understand that there are set of agreed principles for operation.
“Operators should ensure that communities recognise their place in their production and to know that benefits accrue to them when things are up and running” He added.
Also speaking, the Director, DC Premium Logistics and Solutions Ltd, Ayobami Olubiyi, said there is need to have a plan for critical infrastructure, as well as a process to drive and prevent breaches.
According to him, “There is need for stakeholders to engage in partnership and development of critical success factor by which strategies can be created to mitigate crude oil theft and pipeline breaches, this will be the way to go.
“All these assets need to be seen as critical assets to be managed by the government, communities and private sector. There should be a model of success and deliberate efforts to put the model of success in terms of private, government and IOC partnerships to mitigate the issues relating to breaches. There should be a Federal Government entity to ensure safety of people and assets in all these areas”.
On her part, the Chief Executive Officer, Mosen Cleaning Services Ltd, Dupe Senbanjo, stressed that a lot of youths in the Niger Delta region need to be educated and given a brighter future, saying that educating and empowering them, will solve half of the problems.
“It is a stakeholders decision with the Government, it should be a joint effort between the Government and the IOCs to educate the Niger Delta youths on vandalism” she added.