FG to spend N15b annually for protection of oil facilities
The federal government will be spending N15 billion yearly to protect the nation’s oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.
Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, John Jonah, while briefing journalists at the Presidential Villa, after the 52nd National Economic Council Meeting which was chaired by Vice President Namadi Sambo, said the funds would be sourced through a tripartite arrangement involving the federal and state governments as well as international oil companies.
The development follows a steady increase in oil production which Mr Jonah said has stabilised now at 2.4 million barrels per day, as against about 1.7 million a couple of months ago.
Mr Jonah said that the National Economic Council received an updated report from the Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan’s Committee on the criminal incidence of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta Region, and approved the provision of funds as logistics to support the security agencies to achieve their obligation of arresting crude oil theft in the country.
“The security agencies are professionals; well trained Nigerians and some of whom are laying their lives on the line for you and I so that we should get revenue,” he said. “If you know some of the activities that happen in the Niger Delta area; I know some of my personal friends who have died. Now the oil production as at today is 2.4 million barrels per day but there was a time it went as low as 1.7 million barrels per day.”
The deputy governor said that according to the report, most of the oil is spilled into the ocean when pipelines are vandalised and the activities of vandals also lead to stoppage in production activities.
“Most of the oil is not stolen,” he said. “When you vandalise the lines they cannot produce. When the lines are broken, if you try to pump, you pump into the sea. Oil companies will not produce under that condition. So that oil is called deferred oil, it is there, not stolen, but you cannot produce.
Once you cannot produce, you cannot sell it. But a lot of repairs have been made and we are making sure that the current levels (of production) are sustained, and that is why the facilities that are needed have been approved. We are going spend about N15 billion over the year and that is what we lose in just few days.”
Mr Jonah said that the federal government has a responsibility to equip security agencies operating in the area. “So what we are trying to do is to ensure that we buy the necessary equipment for them to perform their duty in the areas that we have identified gaps,” he said. “We also want to make sure that more personnel are available. The terrain is a very difficult one. In one of the lines between Nembe and Brass, we are told that there are about 150 bunkering points and those have been vandalised by crude oil thieves and we are in the process of repairing those.”
He noted that since the vandals had declared this as their means of livelihood, security operatives must be well equipped to go there.
“You don’t get a security man to go there without properly equipping him,” he said. “It is the process of equipping him and giving him additional incentive to work that this money is being voted for. It is not just soldiers, navy, air force, there are police men, civil defence and even the EFCC.”