Protecting Oil pipelines vital for Economic survival- Expert

Economist, Dr Austin Nweze, has urged the Federal Government through the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the NNPC, Security agencies and Other stakeholders within the Oil and Gas Sector to find a way to end illegal Oil bunkering to save the nations’ Economy.

Dr Nweze who was speaking to Mike Okwoche on the TVC News Breakfast show on the issue of Oil theft said the government should find a way to get the illegal refiners on board and give crude to them directly.

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He added that this will help in ensuring that the revenue currently being lost to illegal bunkering and refining will be paid by those in the business to the government.

He wondered why it has been so difficult for the Government despite all the Security agencies to put a stop to stealing of Crude.

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He said the disclosure of 58 tapping points allegedly discovered by former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpomupolo, also known as Tompolo, following a pipeline protection contract by the Federal government through the NNPC is disheartening but should have been discovered earlier.

According to Dr Nweze, collaboration with Nations such as Saudi Arabia who have been able to protect their Oil pipelines in such a way that a rupture, diversion or tapping anywhere on the pipeline is instantly discovered and addressed will also help.

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The high cost of Petroleum products in the country should not be as high as it is but for the rent Economy which ensures that too many people have a cut of the price of the product making it higher than usual.

 

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“Yes. What the government should have done long time ago, and I’ve been preaching it is okay. You said this is illegal refinery and all that. Legalize it. Sell products to them. See the equipment they have, see how you can cushion the cost of bringing better equipment. So you legalize the damn thing and then give crude to them directly. Then you see illegal bunkering, Stop.

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Because where is it? Apart from those that have much money, the big men that ship abroad and all that. Okay, this is another catalogue. Then the local ones who are refining. So why don’t you legalize this thing? For example, my pastor told the story of how he went to Germany and the cab taking him to the hotel said, okay, you guys from Nigeria say the German governments are looking for two Nigerians who swindled banks of about 20 something million Dutch. Mark. They’re not looking for them to judge them. They’re looking for them to employ. I don’t know if you saw it based on true story. Catch me if you can. Okay?

It was a real time Internet fraud. And it was very good at defrauding and running. And you couldn’t catch him. And you go here, you had done the evil, you had gone. So they wanted to catch him, not because they wanted to jail him. They wanted to catch him. So that it. Can help them catch people. But eventually when they caught him, they had to employ him. They do that, but we can do that. But we still have you know what is stopping us from doing it? Doing it because the people who are supposed to catch them are also part of it.

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How will I surrender my illegal refinery to a government and then they will take it. And then all the returns I will be making will now go to government. No, government is not going to take they’ll be operating. The government is to give assistance. No, government cannot do that because in government gives them the license to do it.

That means government has a share in the profits. Just like share it will be with what they are making hundred percent. Is it not better that they accept government’s offer and sleep with their two eyes closed knowing that nobody’s going to harass them? They are not what they are. They’re complaining.

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That is why it is important that the government takes charge of the whole thing. If you want to bring them as part of our refining architecture then they have to be caught and brought into the system. The thing is that they are resisting it. Maybe because the conditions are not favorable. It cannot be favorable to them because the 100% right now it wasn’t spelled out to the first in the first place. Yes.

And you know, the government using force say you must and all that everything can be negotiated so that it would be a gain gain kind of thing. All right? The illegal refiners will gain, the government will gain so that this bunkering without doing that, there’s no way bunkering will cease. And again, those that are watching a TV or saw somebody on the social media and all that and where they lay the pipe up to 4 km. That was also ten years ago. I heard a story of how that and one of the in laws of the present government, an official of the present government, the son in law was also involved in it.

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Where they put the metering, they come, they check the meter in order to know how many being pulled and all that. Before that place there’s another tapping before the meter so that there’s no way you can cut. They will get their own feet. Whatever is left, then they give it to yes. All right. In all of this, the NNPC is the god of oil. Within that sector where they have the whole OPEC meetings, they interface with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and all of the oil producing companies.

When it comes to how it is done in other climates, is it so difficult to either if we don’t know how to do it, we get contractors or even expertise who can help us do it. Tracing every line of pipeline in this country. If you punch anyone, we know where it is punched and stuff like that. Saudi Arabia did it some other countries have done it. NNPC is to be held accountable for what is going on now in the years past. I don’t know whether they have changed that.

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When I did a study in 2007 and I was doing a story on the political economy of high oil prices, I went to NNPC, they helped with in Abuja to interview some people, disguising myself. I did tell them exactly what I was doing. And they said look, the people that they don’t even have the equipment. They haven’t invested in equipment. The helicopter that takes them to where they have to check something belongs to one of the IOCs, okay? One of the other companies, Chevron or Shell and all that, they don’t have equipment. And then who is going to do it for that?

Even the manpower they didn’t have. So everything is being done. For instance, share, reproduce oil and say this is a quantity. NMPC does not have the equipment to determine the accuracy. It’s whatever Shell tells them, they accept. Okay, so in that case, what do you do? They have not invested. And again, I found that it was also some kind of a conduit where you saw that particular IOCs when the later drive was alive and all that period. I did this study and I know what they told me and that even the legal department does not see the name of the person that gets there.

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They prepare the Legal document and they’ll tell them leave the name blank when they get to Aso Villa, they fill in the name. All right, so a high level corruption going on, or is it in refining why petrol is so expensive, okay. And all the chain of cuts that you have to give that makes the price of fuel so expensive you can actually buy for a 15 hours. The thing is that but they talk about the landing cost. That is the landing cost. Because you are my friend. You are my friend. I’m government and I need to finance some and then I give you a contract. Then other people that linked you up to get to me, we get an error. That was the rate. Then everything is factored today.

What I think we are driving at here is that we are chasing shadows in this issue of illegal refineries. That if we really want to get these things out, we have intelligence. That’s why DSS is there. They know where every illegal refinery is located. It’s just what I’ve been saying about the bandits. What I’ve been saying here for months now is that the DSS, they know where all these criminals are. The point is get the strategy, go after they are doing that.

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Now, the final risks are in a very small suite of land in the Niger Delta. There are people who work there, who wake up in the morning, go there. Even if they have their night duty, they go there, they do their work, they go home. They have families. These people are not bearing guns. They’re just there doing illegal work. They’re just taking from the pipe. They can’t tell us that they don’t know all of them. Of course they know. They can’t tell us that they can go and arrest all of them if they want to do that in one week they can put this thing to an end because it is not as complicated or sophisticated as I’m making it seem.

I told the story earlier that I visited with a top government official who remained unamed to the State Department, the United States. This was about ten years ago and we met with the Secretary of State for Africa. And this story that people are saying today as if it was yesterday, it started. The US government knows about it of course. They said it is very they talked about how amazing it was that there will be a ship waiting on the high seas and they will be taking the Oil they already divert straight into the thing and then they will fill up. You know how much they will fill up? A big deal is they will stay and they will be waiting. They’ll be in the queue just like the tankers wait on the queue in the depot and then they take it and then they cruise away. They are not flies. You can see them and say what to swap them these days are a thousand times bigger than a human being. Who are these international thieves? Europeans. So the thing is so there’s some collaboration is their government not questioning them? Where are they getting this in? That question would look like why would the government in Europe or in the Americas allow any company steal money from Africa or Asia? I wonder if they will be asking when the fox or other comes to take your chicken”.

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