NNPC holds back the deployment of Drones to monitor Petroleum Pipelines

The deployment of drones to monitor petroleum products pipelines across the country has been put on hold by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation -NNPC.

The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, said that the deployment of drones would, however, not commence immediately, explaining that the process was highly technical.

Although Alegbe did not confirm if officers from the NAEC had started taking position in securing the facilities, he made it clear that the NNPC had received assurances from the country’s defence chief that the Army would secure the pipelines.

When asked if drones had been deployed to monitor the oil installations, he said, “No, nothing like that. Working out the whole thing is not one you can say will happen over the weekend or during the week. It is a lot more technical than that.

“You have to involve the Air Force. You have to involve some other partners who are outside of the country. It is a high security issue and is not something that can just take effect quickly like that. We are doing this thing in collaboration with the office of the CDS. Further updates shall be communicated to you on this matter.”

A senior official at the corporation, who was privy to the security measures being put in place by the oil firm with respect to pipelines protection, told our correspondents that the first intervention taken by the NNPC was the change of guard that used to man the facilities.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “The first phase of intervention for the protection of pipelines took effect last weekend and the office of the Chief of Defence Staff has assured us that they are going to deploy the Army Engineering Corps over the weekend. This, therefore, implies that the Army is taking over the protection of pipelines and all other security agencies are going to work with them from the flanks.

“On the issue of drones, we should know that we cannot get these highly technical gadgets so cheaply. So, we may say that the deployment of drones will be a medium to long term plan and not an immediate action.

“For the immediate, it is the change in the guard of those who are securing the pipelines that has been effected. Now, the Army Engineering Corps is taking over. That is what has been achieved and is what has been done at this moment.”

The official also stated that drones exercise would have to go through the required public procurement process before the facilities would be used to monitor oil installations across the country.

It would be recalled thatThe NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, told journalists in Lagos last week that the corporation had devised some strategies that would check the menace of pipeline vandalism.

It would also be recalled that about two months ago, the NNPC promised Nigerians that it would end oil theft and pipeline vandalism within eight months through the deployment of drones to monitor pipelines and movement of oil vessels in the nation’s territorial waters.

It was, however, learnt that based on the assurance from the office of the Chief of Defence Staff, men of the Nigerian Army Engineering Corps had been deployed to secure the country’s pipelines.

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