INTERVIEW: RemTrack will shine the light on darkness in extractive industry, says OrderPaper ED
Available records show Nigeria’s crude oil production capacity stands at 2.2 million barrels per day even as the country has traditionally been ranked Africa’s largest producer of oil. After decades of exploration, the oil and gas sector has accounted for a significant part of government revenue. But despite such endowment, Nigeria has struggled to cater for millions of its citizens, with the country currently rated as the world capital of extreme poverty.
Worried by this trend, the OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative in collaboration with the Civil Society Steering Committee (CSSC) of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) recently developed Remtrack, an application “to enhance transparency in Nigeria’s extractive industry”, particularly in the petroleum sector.
In this interview with TheCable, Oke Epia, founder and executive director of OrderPaper, said the organisation and its partners hope to use RemTrack to shine the light on a “dark” extractive industry. He said this would be done by putting out NEITI-vetted information about the sector in a user-friendly and easily understandable format in order to trigger the interest of citizens and in the end, enable them to ask the right questions about oil and gas sector.
TheCable: For the benefit of those who haven’t heard about RemTrack, the app launched to monitor the extractive sector, can you please shed more light on it?
The pubic presentation was a culmination of various activities that lasted for about a year and included collaborations and consultations. One of the things we needed to be very careful about is the sanctity and integrity of the data that we have in the app; in processing that data, we wanted to be sure there are no compromises and omissions that will question the credibility of the data that is eventually put out for public engagement. We wanted to ensure it is solid, co-created and meets best practices and standards. It is important that we understand that the apathy of citizens to things that matter including governance is part of why we are where we are. Citizens tend to think, “oh, it is not my business, it is the government’s.” The petroleum industry accounts for much of our foreign earnings, it gives us most of the revenue we use to finance the budget. So, why would you as a citizen not be interested in what happens in that sector? If we are not interested in it, we should have little right to complain about corruption, or why things are not working. So, we need to show interest. And in trying to get people to be interested in that, we thought that a way to do so is through the use of technology. So, how do you put up information about the extractive industry in a way that is attractive to the average man on the street and that everybody is able to use because it appeals to them? RemTrack is one of such tech tools. We thought that by putting citizens in the know about the petroleum sector, they should understand that this is why we are where we are. Getting citizens to know why things have not happened the way they ought to happen is the motivation for RemTrack. When you know, you are able to ask the right questions.
TheCable: Many people believe the oil and gas sector is soaked in corruption. Don’t you think that is the major reason for the apathy by Nigerians?
There is no doubt that corruption is deeply engraved in the system, and there is no illusion that this is going to change overnight. But there has to be a culture of demand-to-know from citizens. But that I ask today and do not get the answer does not mean I should not ask again; I have to keep asking. For example, in most of the recommendations in the NEITI annual reports, you will find them to be a repetition of what was recommended in previous years. Like the last audit, some of them have been long-standing issues. It doesn’t stop NEITI from doing its works, it will continue to make those audits. And more and more people become aware of the intransigence of setting persons and organisations to do the right thing; more and more people begin to ask questions. And because Nigeria is also a global system where there is also pressure from external factors; “you claim to be a transparency champion, you claim to run an anti-corruption administration, then why is this? Why is that? And don’t forget that Nigeria is also signed off to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) processes and principles. It has obligations it has to meet externally. So, if there is some public pressure from the external, and citizens begin to mount pressure from the inside, it is only a matter of time before things begin to move. So, should we be intimidated? Should we keep our mouth shut because the challenges are enormous? No, you start from somewhere. A great way to do it is to democratise the knowledge and open up space for everyone to be able to ask questions geared towards demanding transparency and accountability from actors, those who manage our petroleum sector and solid mineral sector. Demand more transparency from those who are operators and industry players. We need more transparency, we want to see the taxes paid. So that what you say you paid is what the government confirms that it has received. And then we’ll take a step further; this money that you said you have received, what have you done with it? Like I say, it’s our collective resource. Na our oil money. So, this royalty has come, what have you done with the money? Why do we still have broken infrastructure? Why is it so?
TheCable: Aside from the lack of transparency, what are the other challenges plaguing the extractive industry? The picture you painted suggests the situation is very bad; could that be how the system has been structured or simply lack of political will?
Darkness thrives where there is no light. What we want to do is to put the light out there to help dispel the darkness. By putting out information in a user-friendly, easily understandable format, about the petroleum and gas sector, about the oil and mining sectors, citizens become aware of what is rightfully theirs; of what is not working and what should be done to make it work; who is responsible for why things are not working? So these questions have to keep coming. At the end of the day, if it’s a question of political will, you get out of the kitchen if the heat is too much for you. So, people know who is responsible for why things are not working so they can demand change and a new way of doing things. There is a totality of actors that we must continue to interrogate. The challenge about how would you get citizens to engage with this information is the more pertinent question that we need to take. What we want to see happen is a sustained conversation with information that is all the time relevant, with data that all the time have a direct bearing to you as a person, to you as a community, to you as a set of persons or as a nation. So, if the audit reports say XYZ amount of money is what is missing from payments of some entities, you are able to say such money can do this level of infrastructure.
TheCable: Are important information such as Nigeria’s daily oil earnings part of what we will be learning from this platform?
RemTrack will provide an array of information that is relevant to the sector and that is able to be related to everyday life and living conditions in Nigeria? It’s a shame that Nigeria does not know the exact amount of oil it drills; that information is perhaps with the IOCs. So, can we know what they know and democratise that information. Why don’t we have metering at the point of exploration? So we can have a modern technological way everyone else uses to know what exactly they produce. How much are we paying for subsidy? Why do we need to continue to pay for subsidy? Why do we need to continue to do crude oil swap? Who are the greatest beneficiaries of all these transactions in the oil and gas industry? These are the questions that will continue to arise, and once the questions continue to arise, you can relate them to your everyday life. It encourages you to ask questions until the answers you are seeking begin to come in. So, it is a pool of interaction; you raise a question on the app, why is this so? There is a responsibility of certain actors who are seeing what questions you are asking to respond to you. They could ignore you, so you come back again and raise the same question. When you have more people asking the same questions,at the end of the day, the persons involved will say, “look, this is becoming embarrassing.” You know what social media is capable of. It is the power of social media that we want to deploy in the oil and gas sector, in a positive and productive way. RemTrack is not built to hound anybody or any entity, it is a public information platform for people to say what is going on based on the knowledge that they know, and ask the right questions and expect the answers to come in. I must make this point, every data that you have on the app is what has not only been verified but authorised for use. What we are just doing is to process this information in manners that will appeal to the senses, understanding and interests of citizens.
TheCable: It is a good thing you are empowering the public to ask the right questions. But how do you also intend to get those answers they are seeking? Do you have a mechanism in place to make sure the answers come?
RemTrack is a multi-stakeholder platform and has an immense use for citizens engagement on the front end of things. It also has a multi-pronged engagement window at the back-end; built to allow stakeholders to come to reconcile issues and gaps raised in the open space. For instance, NEITI does its audits annually, and within the annual window, it is possible that public pressure could be on certain entities, on certain issues to become resolved. So there’s a window at the back-end of RemTrack that allows that resolution process to go on. That process is able to receive a stamp of reconciliation from the main moderator, NEITI. It can say, “yes, we can confirm that this issue has been resolved.” And then there is a progression from a pending or unresolved issue to a resolved category. And so the public sees, that because of some questions that we asked, because of our demands, there has been some progress. And there could be some accolades to the entities involved. It is a healthy tool of engagement that enables and incentivize citizens to ask the right questions such that there is a healthy pressure brought to bear on those responsible to do the right thing.
TheCable: And what if they don’t want to do the right thing?
If they don’t want to, you keep asking the right questions, you keep on with the pressure. So, you have the carrot and stick; you keep applying the stick which will be calling out companies and agencies that are refusing to do the right thing. If you and I know this money belongs to us and someone is holding it back, we can legitimately demand it. If that is not working, we can escalate the demand. For instance, Nigeria has international obligations and partners it must sell its products. It has treaties and obligations it must meet. If these things become issues that drag, citizens can put the pressure on the government and those external factors will say, “look, you have to sort this out.” There are different fora and different levels, but we do not need to go that far. I believe citizens collectively and continuously asking the right questions will make the government sit up and do the right thing.
TheCable: We’ve seen instances where MDAs refuse to disclose information sought through the FOI act, and even when you go to court, they still don’t reveal the information. Are you saying RemTrack will at some point involve some of these international organisations to make sure compliance from the government institutions you are dealing with?
RemTrack is a tool driven by OrderPaper in collaboration with the civil society steering committee of NEITI which is the body of non-state actors involved in the national stakeholders working group. So, it is not just an OrderPaper thing. This is the entire body of civil societies in Nigeria that has taken ownership of RemTrack and are able to activate local and international measures for public pressure to bear on government entities to do the right thing. So, it is not that RemTrack will escalate these demands, but it is that platform that provides the basis for such escalation.
TheCable: How sustainable is this initiative? What measures are in place to see that in 10 or more years to come, we are still talking about RemTrack?
That is why it is a collective tool owned by everyone which includes citizens and CSOs, who believe the rich extractive resource of this country should be for the benefit of everyone. So, as long as you find the information on RemTrack, you will want to use it to continue to engage the government. So, it is not about sustaining it, but are we going to be tired of asking the right questions? It is not about the tool which has provided access to information. You want to use that information to sustain pressure on the government and non-government actors to do the right thing. So it won’t make sense if you keep complaining of corruption but fail to use the tool to fight it.
TheCable: What has been the response since you launched the initiative?
The response has been that of trying to really understand what the app is all about. You know, projects as this need a lot of sensitisation for people to understand and ask the right questions. So, we are in that phase of creating awareness which also includes this conversation. As part of the awareness drive and sensitisation on RemTrack, OrderPaper would be hosting a first-of-its-kind panel on technology and transparency in extractives at the forthcoming Social Media Week Lagos on February 27. The panel will feature players, experts and advocates in the petroleum sector who will engage the theme of how technology can advance transparency and accountability, anchoring on the RemTrack app we have been talking about. It is expected to be a big deal given what Social Media Week Lagos is all about.
Sylva: One billion barrels of crude oil discovered in north-east
Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources, says about one billion barrels of crude oil have been discovered in the north-east.
NAN quoted Sylva as saying this on Wednesday at a press conference to mark the end of the 2020 Nigeria International Petroleum Summit in Abuja.
The minister said large quantities of oil deposits are yet to be found in the country, adding there is need for more exploration to be undertaken.
“The figure we are getting, the jury is not totally out yet but from the evaluation results, we are getting the reserve that has been discovered in the north-east is about a billion barrels,” he said.
“Those are the kind of figures we are seeing and we are beginning to understand the geological structure of the region.”
The minister said he is confident that the petroleum industry bill (PIB) would be passed before the end of June, going by “cordial” relationship between the legislature and the executive.
In October, Samson Makoji, acting group general manager, group public affairs division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, announced the discovery of oil in the north-eastern part of the country.
He had said the discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantity in the Gongola Basin will “attract foreign investment, generate employment for people to earn income and increase government revenues”.
Coronavirus: Nigeria’s oil revenue at risk as OPEC mulls more production cuts
An advisory committee of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has recommended a further reduction of production output until June over the coronavirus outbreak.
Further production cuts could negatively impact Nigeria as the 2020 budget estimates that N2.64 trillion of its projected N8.42 trillion will be realised from crude oil.
The committee, which consists of representatives from oil-producing countries, agreed that the coronavirus “is dampening global energy demand”.
NAN reports that the committee recommends “a further adjustment in production until the end of the second quarter of 2020 on top of the production curbs that are already in place”.
Mohamed Arkab, the Algerian energy minister who currently serves as OPEC president, said the coronavirus epidemic is having a negative impact on economic activities.
“The coronavirus epidemic is having a negative impact on economic activities, particularly on the transportation, tourism, and industry sectors, particularly in China, and also increasingly in the Asian region and gradually in the world,” he explained.
Arkab said he would consult with those among the 24 oil producers who are not part of the advisory committee that recently met in Vienna to reach consensus on the way forward.
“The situation is clear. It requires corrective action in the interest of all,” he added.
The next decision-making meetings among OPEC and non-OPEC oil ministers are scheduled on March 5 and 6 in Vienna.
The death toll reported from the coronavirus outbreak was 1,011 on Monday night with cases confirmed in 19 countries.
PPPRA finance director admits not remitting N501m to FG in 2014
Peter Joshua, the director of finance and administration at Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), has admitted that the agency did nor remit N501.2 million into the federation account in 2014.
At an investigative hearing by the house of representatives committee on finance on Monday, Joshua said the agency should have remitted N708.6 million, not N207.7 million.
The N708.6 million, he explained, represents 25% of the N2.8 billion generated as revenue by the agency.
According to Joshua, the amount was largely generated from the 15 kobo charged on every litre of fuel imported or refined locally.
Responding to Joshua’s comments, James Faleke, the committee’s chairman, threatened to recommend sanctions against the agency and its officials.
“You are hiding facts from us. It is either you are not competent or whatever you are doing here is deliberate. We will recommend appropriate sanctions,” Faleke said.
“You are sitting on Nigeria’s money even when you know Nigeria cannot finance its capital budget beyond 20 per cent. You have stayed on this seat for too long.
“Remember we have a new sheriff in town. We are not here to joke. What we want is a system where we can finance our budget. If your agency alone is sitting on N500 million yearly based on your declaration in 2014 alone, then what is the essence of PPPRA?”.
NAN reports that Faleke ruled that the agency’s management should reappear before the committee on February 27 with all documents showing revenue generation and remittances from 2011 to date.
OPL 245: Nigerian witness testifies in Italian court
The trial of Shell & Eni is ongoing in Milan, Italy, Valori.it, an Italian newspaper is reporting.
Italian authorities had asked prosecutors to produce Isaac Eke, a Nigerian witness who is a retired assistant inspector-general of police, in the ongoing probe of the $1.1bn Malabu oil scandal.
Eke was brought up by defendant Vincenzo Armanna, former Eni manager, who became one of the main accusers of the current CEO Descalzi and the other managers.
Shell and Eni were said to have given out bribes in the bid for OPL 245, one of Nigeria’s richest oil blocks. The oil block’s reserves were estimated at 9.23 billion barrels of crude oil.
At the time of the OPL 245 deal between 2010 and 2012, Eke was deputy commissioner of police operations in Abuja.
While testifying, Eke said he met Armannna twice through a mutual friend, Timi Ayei, the first time in 2014.
But the Italian prosecutor pointed out that he had earlier said, in his letter, that he met Armanna in 2009 and that he was introduced to him as Victor Nwafor.
Although Eke confirmed that his signature was on the letter, he said he has never used the name Victor Nwafor.
He said he was unaware the trial would be public but the prosecutor countered him, saying he had said he was ready to testify in the trial.
Asked who paid for his flight ticket to Italy, the witness said he did but was told Armanna would pay him for his flights and accommodation.
He also said he spoke with the Nigerian security services before he came to the country and was summoned by Babagana Munguno, national security adviser.
He, however, said he never met ENI’s managers.
The final witness, Salvatore Castilletti, a senior officer with the Italian secret service, AISE, was called by Eni manager and defendant Roberto Casula.
Castilletti said he was head of AISE in Abuja and knew Casula “as he was head of Eni in Nigeria and AISE had a role in protecting Italians in Eni.”
He said he never discussed OPL 245 with anyone since it was not part of his duties.
He also denied being aware of a meeting between ENI’s senior managers and ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011.
The federal government had accused Jonathan and Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum, of accepting bribes for the OPL 245 deal.
The claims were that the duo received bribes concerning payments made to acquire the licence in 2011.
In the court case filed against Shell and Eni, the federal government said Jonathan and Alison-Madueke broke the law for making a secret profit and sidelining the government from its true share of the deal.
On April 9, 1998, the federal military government awarded OPL 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd, which was said to be owned mainly by Mohammed Abacha, son of the Sani Abacha, and Etete, who was the petroleum minister at the time.
On July 2, 2001, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo revoked Malabu’s licence and assigned the oil block to Shell — without a public bid. Malabu went to court, but ownership was reverted to it in 2006 after it reached an out-of-court settlement with the federal government.
Shell fought back and commenced arbitration against Nigeria, but when Jonathan came to power in 2010, the controversy appeared to have been resolved with Shell and Eni agreeing to buy the oil block from Malabu for $1.1 billion.
The oil companies also paid $210 million as signature bonus to the federal government.
However, the deal has been enmeshed in more controversies and trials over allegations of bribery.
Lawan: We’ll pass PIB before end of year
Senate President Ahmad Lawan says the national assembly is working towards passing the petroleum industry bill (PIB) before the end of the year.
He said this while speaking with reporters in Abuja on Monday.
“Whatever the mystery, we are determined to pass the PIB before the end of this year by the grace of God. The PIB is so important because until you are able to pass that bill or bills, which ever happens, you cannot attract investments into the oil and gas industry,” he said.
“In the last 10 years, there have not been any investments in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.
“That is so important because we have lost so much and if we pass and by the Grace of God, we will, the enormous advantages in catapulting our economy to the level that Nigerians desire.”
In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari rejected the petroleum industry governance bill (PIGB) passed by the national assembly.
The proposed law, which was conceived to liberalise the governance structure of Nigeria’s oil industry. Buhari had sent back the bill to the national assembly on three grounds.
One, he said the bill, if signed into law, would whittle down his power as minister of petroleum resources.
Two, he said all the ministers he consulted over PIGB refused to support his signing it into law.
Three, the president said he did not see any “fiscal content” of the bill.
In his interaction with reporters on Monday, the senate president also said plans were in place to for the amendment of the electoral act.
However, he did not state the sections of the act that would be amended but under the leadership of Bukola Saraki, attempts to amend the act caused a rift between senators.
Some senators had argued that the change in the proposed change to the sequence of the elections was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari who had declared his intention to run for another term then.
ANALYSIS: ‘N556bn spent on oil pipeline repairs since 2015’ — Nigeria losing trillions to vandalism
Between January 2015 and June 2019, the federal government spent over N556 billion on oil pipeline repairs and maintenance across the country. This figure is contained in the monthly financial and operations reports released by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Analysis done by TheCable showed that within the time covered, the pipelines in the country were vandalised a total of 8,353 times.
These vandalism incidents, according to NNPC reports in five years, were recorded in Mosimi (Ogun state), Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Warri and Gombe.
Commenting on vandalism, Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state, said the Nembe Creek Trunk Line in Bayelsa suffered the most in 2019.
From 2015 to 2019, over 204 million barrels of oil valued at N4.075 trillion was lost to oil theft and vandalism, according to the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI); while N129 billion was spent on repairs and maintenance for that year.
Incidents of vandalism have persisted and remained on the increase despite financial and security measures taken by the government to curb the menace. Vandalism is, unfortunately, not an isolated problem. Its ripple effects include life-claiming explosions, oil spillage, pollution and clean up.
At least three people were killed in Abule-Egba area of Lagos when a pipeline belonging to the NNPC exploded. The explosion was attributed to activities of pipeline vandals. Many valuables were razed in the incident.
In December, an oil pipeline running through Glory Land estate around Isheri Olofin, Egbe-Idimu local council development area of Lagos also exploded after activities of suspected vandals.
In its 2019 policy brief entitled ‘Stemming the increasing cost of oil theft to Nigeria’, NEITI said in 10 years, Nigeria lost over 505 million barrels of crude oil and 4.2 billion litres of petroleum products valued at $40.06 billion and $1.84 billion respectively.
It further estimated that between 2009-2018, $11 million was lost to crude theft and vandalism on a daily basis.
“Nigeria currently loses a sizeable portion of its crude oil to theft, vandalism and deferred production. The losses are monumental both in scale and scope. Estimates of volume of crude losses vary across different periods, with official figures showing an astronomical increase from the earliest reported figures that this paper can reference,” NEITI said in its report.
“Cumulatively, total crude and product losses for the period amount to $41.9 billion. This is the size of Nigeria’s entire foreign reserves. On average, Nigeria loses $11.47 million daily, $349 million monthly, and $4.2 billion dollars every year for the past 10 years.
“In terms of volume, 138.4 thousand barrels of crude oil were lost every day for the past 10 years, representing 7% of the average production of 2 million bpd. Ultimately, what is stolen, spilled or shut-in represents lost revenue, which ultimately translates to services that the government cannot provide for citizens already in dire need of critical public goods.
“Estimates of the volume of crude losses in Nigeria have varied widely. Figures offered by past and present government officials have ranged between 150,000 barrels per day and 250,000 barrels per day. Other estimates produced by private studies have been typically higher, in the region of 200,000 bpd to 400,000 bpd, suggesting that up to a fifth of Nigeria’s daily crude oil production may be lost to theft and vandalism.”
“Pipeline repairs, a direct consequence of vandalism, is a major index of losses in the oil industry.”
In its January-September 2015 report, the NNPC listed pipeline security reform as a “key determinant for change”.
An undercover investigation carried out by TheCable in the Niger Delta creeks showed how activities of saboteurs constitute a major threat to the finances of the government.
The report said the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) estimated in 2018 that the country lost more than N3 trillion to oil thieves in two years.
|Cost of Repair/Maintenance|
|Crude Lost to Theft|
|Value of crude lost|
WHEN WE SUM UP
Security votes are paid to state governments and certain groups to ensure that the pipelines are secured from vandals. Though the amount spent on security votes remains undisclosed by the government, it is arguable that it runs into billions of naira.
If the cost of pipeline repairs and crude loss is summed up, then vandalism may have cost Nigeria nothing less than N4 trillion in five years —this is excluding the amount paid for security votes.
This figure is 2.6 percent of the total 2020 budget.
WHAT N556 BILLION COULD DO FOR NIGERIANS
With a budget deficit of N2.18 trillion for 2020, Nigeria definitely does not have enough money to finance its expenditure and most importantly, cannot afford to allow its limited resources to go to “waste” through preventable and manageable ways.
The N556 billion spent on repairs and maintenance of pipelines could do a whole lot of other things for Nigeria and Nigerians if only the security apparatus put in place to prevent these incidents of vandalism were optimal in their responsibilities.
- 200 cancer machines at N1bn each
An investigation done by Fisayo Soyombo, an undercover journalist, in 2018 revealed that there are only four functioning radiotherapy (RT) machines in the country to serve an estimated 200 million Nigerians.
Meanwhile, the Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommendation is one RT machine per 1 million people. That is, Nigeria needs about 200 RT machines.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed of cancer annually, with 80,000 of them dying from the disease –an average of 240 Nigerians per day or 10 Nigerians per hour.
With N200 billion out of N556 billion, Nigeria can reach the IAEA recommendation and still have over N300bn left.
- 2020 fuel subsidy
Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, had said under-recovery, also known as subsidy on petrol would gulp N450 billion in 2020.
This is N106bn less than N556bn.
- Minimum wage
If the federal government were to pay the proposed minimum wage of 30,000, N556bn would cover the salary of 16.84m Nigerian workers.
- 2nd Niger Bridge
At N220 billion for the construction of 11.9-kilometre link roads for the 2nd Niger Bridge across Anambra and Delta states, Nigeria could have two of its kinds with no sweat.
NNPC: Vandalism, product theft puts us at a disadvantage
The NNPC has not denied that crude theft and vandalism puts the country at a “disadvantaged position”.
“Notwithstanding the reduction in downstream vandalism, NNPC undeniably needs the support of Nigerians especially in areas of security and infrastructural integrity,” it said in its December 2016 report.
“Favourable business environment will enable NPDC to reverse on average the over N20 billion monthly revenue currently being lost due to pipeline sabotage which would have created more profit and jobs.
“Products theft and vandalism have continued to destroy value and put NNPC at disadvantaged competitive position.”
Mele Kyari: People living close to pipelines are silent yet aware of vandalism
Mele Kyari, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), says it is regrettable that people who live close to pipelines are aware of vandalism activities.
Speaking on Tuesday on a morning show that aired on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Kyari said pipeline vandalism is now a full-blown business.
“Activities of pipeline vandalism began as acts of sabotage. Now they have graduated into a full-blown business. This is most unfortunate,” he said.
“These acts of vandalism happen to our products pipelines across the country, which is why many of the pipelines are shut down today.
“What we saw in Lagos a few days ago on our System 2B (Atlas Cove all the way to Mosimi) pipeline was an indication that these unpatriotic acts happen in the midst of communities. Almost everybody around that community is aware of what is happening
“These insertions into the pipelines can never be done in isolation. There’s a huge conspiracy of silence around this tragic situation. I mean conspiracy of silence from those who have the responsibility to protect the pipeline & those who watch this happen.
“I was shocked that very close to the site of the unfortunate pipeline explosion in Abule Egba area, there’s a big church and a big mosque there. It means that worshippers in those 2 holy places are well aware of what is happening. This is most tragic.”
The NNPC GMD said efforts are being made to curtail the activities of vandals with the intervention of the chief of defence staff.
“We are collaborating with security agencies to curtail the situation. Of recent, the vandals have become so sophisticated as they fight back, until the recent intervention from the Chief of Defence Staff & his team we are very grateful to him for that
“We are happy with what Operation Awatse is doing today because it is sustainable. The efforts they have taken so far have degraded these acts of vandals. We believe that with collaborations such as this, these pipelines will ultimately be safe
“On our part, we are taking some measures. We’re deploying technology to the maximum possibility we can. We’re working on getting the pipelines deeper & much safer & most importantly, we are keen on sustaining our collaboration with the security agencies.”
Kyari visited Lagos on Monday after petrol pipelines around the Abule Egba area of the state were vandalised, leading to a fire outbreak that killed five people.
Sylva: FG making plans for fuel at N97 per litre
Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources, says the federal government is working to make fuel available at N97 per litre, using the compressed natural gas (CNG) as an option to premium motor spirit (PMS).
CNG is a fuel that can be used in place of gasoline, diesel fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). It is used in traditional gasoline/internal combustion engine automobiles or specifically manufactured vehicles.
Fielding questions from reporters at his office in Abuja on Thursday, the minister said the common man would not notice that subsidy on PMS has been removed when they have CNG as an option.
“If we are thinking of reducing pump price for fuel? I could easily say yes and I’m sure all of you wonder why I am saying that,” he said.
“We are thinking of giving the masses an alternative. Today we are all hooked on PMS, what we want to do going forward is to see that we are able to move the masses to CNG gas.
“CNG unit for unit costs less than even the subsidised PMS. Per litre the subsidised rate of PMS is N145/l. CNG will cost N95 to N97/l that is why I could say we want to reduce the cost of fuel, that way when we are given an alternative Nigerians will not notice when the subsidy on PMS is removed.”
The minister said he is hoping that the petroleum industry bill (PIB) will be passed by the national assembly before May.
According to him, the PIB “has taken us back for too long.”
“We are very ambitious about the PIB and we are hoping that it will pass before May this year which is the first anniversary of this administration and second tenure of this government,” he said.
“We are counting on the excellent relationship between the executive and the legislature but I must say that it is a hope and that is why I am mobilising the support of all of you. We are also mobilising the support of the national assembly and everybody else in the industry.
“Let us build a consensus around the PIB because the PIB has taken us back for too long, it has held us down for too long and we need to get it passed quickly. It is taking us a while to tidy up because we want to take every interest on board.”
Crude oil prices approach $70 after US attack on Iranian general
Crude oil prices spiked by 4% on Friday upon news that a top Iranian general was killed in an airstrike by the United States military.
Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for crude oil, stood at $69.01 per barrel, an increase of 4.17%.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) also stood at $63.34 per barrel, a 4% increase.
The Pentagon said the attack was carried out on the order of President Donald Trump to deter “future Iranian attack plans”.
It added that Soleimani was killed because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”.
The airstrike comes days after an Iran-backed militia and its supporters breached the US embassy in Baghdad.
Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) confirmed that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the force, was also among those “martyred by an American strike”.
In September, oil prices increased by 14% after coordinated attacks were carried out on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities which cut off 5% of global oil supplies.
Working in Nigeria’s good
Although world leaders are holding their breath awaiting Iran’s next action, the situation is working in favour of oil producing nations like Nigeria.
Already, Brent crude price is $9 above Nigeria’s crude oil budget benchmark.
A reprisal attack by Iran could send oil prices as high as $100 as global crude supply could be threatened.