Nigerian State Oil Company to Deploy Drones to Fight Oil Theft

  • Drones to monitor movement of vessels in Nigerian waters
  • NNPC head wants Nigeria free of oil theft in eight months

Nigeria’s state oil company is set to deploy drones to check the movements of ships in the country’s waters in a bid to free Africa’s largest crude producer from theft of the commodity within eight months.

The West African nation’s pipelines had as many as 4,000 attempted attacks from June 2014 to June 2015 and 350 Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. staff, police officers and citizens have been killed in related incidents in the past three years, NNPC Managing Director Emmanuel Kachikwu said on Tuesday.

“We are looking at the current logistical nightmares of changing staffing at the loading bay of crude oil export terminals virtually every 90 days,” Kachikwu said in an e-mailed statement. “In eight months we must be able to deliver an environment that is free from the vices of oil theft.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May, has pledged to clamp down on graft and “mind-boggling” theft in an industry that produces about 250,000 barrels per day. Crude provides Africa’s biggest economy with about two-thirds of government revenue and 90 percent of export earnings.

Kachikwu was appointed head of the NNPC last month, and has promised to conduct a forensic audit into the opaque accounts of the state corporation and review all contracts with its joint-venture partners and production-sharing agreements, as part of an effort to clean up the industry.

The NNPC last week canceled swap contract agreements with some companies for offshore refining of crude of 210,000 barrels a day after a review found them unfavorable.

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