The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Andrew Yakubu, has appealed to communities that have oil and gas pipelines running through them to form a reliable ring of protection around them to prevent vandalism and crude oil or products theft that could render critical oil and gas facilities non-functional.
Yakubu made this plea during the re-commissioning ceremony of the Pipelines and Product Marketing Depot in Osisioma near Aba in Abia State.
He said: “I call on Abia people, especially Aba youths, to be guardian angels to secure the pipeline and depot facility. You should all be security conscious and ensure that the depot remains open to drive the local economy.”
NNPC boss, who said the focus of his administration would be on the rehabilitation of vital downstream infrastructure to make petroleum products available to Nigerians in every nook and cranny of the country at lower cost, stated that he would also champion the construction of critical gas infrastructure to make gas available for power generation and industries to revive Aba as an industrial hub.
He thanked all stakeholders ranging from the Governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji, to the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and traditional rulers who provided logistics for securing the 58km pipeline from Port Harcourt to Aba that culminated in the re-commissioning.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Orji charged the people to be the eyes and ears of government and report every illegal movement around the pipelines to security agents.
He said he would propose a bill to the State House of Assembly to make pipeline vandalism, oil theft and similar economic crimes capital offences that attract the death penalty to deter would-be oil thieves.
The Abia Governor, who explained that the re-opening of the depot would help in no small way to curb kidnapping in the state, declared that he had already awarded the contract to fix the road leading to the loading bay of the depot to guarantee free flow of traffic to and from the depot.
On his part, the Managing Director of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), Prince Haruna Momoh, said the role played by the governor of Abia State in the process of revamping the depot is being designed into a template by the company to be used as a guide for other such projects across the country.
He said PPMC was embarking on an aggressive rehabilitation of its pipeline network and depots and that apart from the Ilorin-Minna and Suleija-Jos pipelines that have recently been restored, plans are on to fix the Warri–Benin pipeline and the Aba–Enugu–Makurdi pipeline in the next six months.
On the Aba Depot, Momoh said apart from the pipeline and depot facilities that were fixed, a new metering system was installed while a functional fire truck was also deployed, adding that 30 million liters of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) had already been pumped into the depot.
He charged Abia people to see the security of the pipeline and depot facilities as their collective responsibility.
The chairman of IPMAN in the Abia State, Mr. Gilbert Nwoke, reassured that his association would sanction any member who is found to be receiving products from black market sources or oil thieves and pipeline vandals as a way of curbing the menace that kept the depot out of business for seven years.
He called on NNPC/PPMC to pump other products such as Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) and Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) to the depot.
Other dignitaries who were at the occasion were Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe and Nkechi Nworgu, the Group Executive Director, Corporate Services of NNPC Dr. Peter Nmadu, the Legal Adviser and Company Secretary, Mr. Anthony Madiche and the Executive Director Operations of PPMC, Engr. Emmanuel Wowo as well as Mr. Bassey Anang, the PPMC Port Harcourt Area Manager.