Ben Dunno, Warri
Asset Management Team (AMT) of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 34, Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), it’s business partner, Niger Delta (ND) Western, has decried the level of environmental degradation caused as a result of the activities of oil thieves in the region.
It warned communities in the area to stop getting involved in acts that cause environmental degradation through illegal activities. The Manager, Government, Community Relations and Security, under the AMT, Mr. Sheidu Aiguedo, raised this fresh alarm in Warri on Thursday while speaking on behalf of the Chief Operating Officer, NPDC/NDW OML34 AMT, Chief Edirin Abamwa, during an interactive media session. Although not ruling out claims of conspiracy between indigenes, security agencies and the cartel behind these criminal acts, Aiguedo stated that the health hazards posed to the lives of the locals due to these acts remain a major concern.
He stated that it was more annoying and irresponsible for the indigenes to claim that outsiders are the ones perpetrating these illegalities in their communities, wondering why they would ever allow strangers to come and carry out such devastating acts on their land.
According to him, “have you ever seen or witnessed a situation when these criminals are siphoning crude from Pipelines? They waste a greater percentage of the crude into the environment in the cause of trying to clamp valves and pipes and these end up destroying the aquatic lives in such areas”.
“We are aware that in most cases there’s always a conspiracy between indigenes and those who carry out these illegalities but its worrisome that some community leaders and youths could allow such huge destruction of their environment by these criminals”.
“It is their future they are destroying more at the end of the day. Yes, the company might be affected in terms of commercial gains as a result of shortages in crude but the indigenes future in terms of dangers posed to their health and environment is more grievous”, he stated.
While dismissing the claim of an insider collaboration with the cartel, he stated that the oil company spent over a billion naira every year to curtail oil theft through the pipeline surveillance contracts awarded indigenous firms.
He explained further that the company’s commitment to the local content policy for pipeline surveillance contract was borne out of the desire to encourage local firms that have built capacity over the years in that field. The Manager said that the company is currently looking at technology to enhance pipeline surveillance, including the use of surveillance drones to curb the menace across the region.
Aiguedo said that the company runs a JV account with representatives of the host communities from where several projects are awarded and executed depending on the choice of communities.