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Oil Theft: NPA moves to tackle ‘rogue vessels’ operating undetected

Seaport in Nigeria

*Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, discloses the ‘rogue vessels’ engage in crude oil theft in the Nigerian waters go undetected because they turn off their Automatic Identification System, but the regulatory agency is set to procure the Vessel Tracking Service technology

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has explained that ‘rogue vessels’ engage in crude oil theft in the country’s waters go undetected because they turn off their Automatic Identification System (AIS).

ConsumerConnect reports Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director of the NPA, disclosed this development to the State House Correspondents Tuesday, in Abuja, FCT.

On how such vessels could commit economic sabotage in the Nigerian territorial waters without detection, Bello-Koko said such ships had evaded arrest because they switched off their onboard automated identification system, which displays the vessel’s position in a vicinity.

Besides, the NPA Chief stated that the Ports Authority does not have the required technology to detect the origin or destination of such erring vessels.

As regards how an oil tanker evaded arrest in Nigeria after illegally lifting crude oil, Bello-Koko noted the NPA is now in the process of procuring the technology called the Vessel Tracking Service (VTS) to enable it to identify, locate and monitor all vessels in the country’s waters.

The ports regulatory agency, he said, has been trying to acquire the VTS for about 10 years now.

Bello-Koko also disclosed the NPA had identified a certified consultant, while also working with the Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited to help with critical detection.

The Managing Director of NPA, however, assured that the technology would be procured before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Oil theft as economic sabotage

It is noted that oil theft has made the headlines in recent times, as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, ex- Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and former Emir of Kano; as well as Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State demanding the unbundling and privatisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.

Against the backdrop of the ugly trend, the Federal Government also awarded a pipeline surveillance contract to a company led by Government Ekpemepulo a.k.a. Tompolo, a former militant leader.

But the development has received criticisms from several Nigerians, including Mr. Femi Falana, SAN and human rights lawyer.

Falana has described the official response to tackling oil theft and it’s attendant damage to the economy as a “colossal embarrassment” to security agencies in the country.

Recall Malam Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of NNPC Limited, August 2022, justified the Federal Government’s decision to award the multi-billion Naira pipelines surveillance contract to Tompolo’s Tantita Security Services.

Nevertheless, the private security firm has made startling revelations on crude oil theft in the Niger Delta area, according to report.

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