By Ere-ebi Agedah
The Nigerian Senate has endorsed the N48 billion oil pipeline surveillance contract awarded by the Federal Government to a former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, High Chief Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo).
The Chairman of, the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), Albert Akpan, made the disclosure while speaking with journalists shortly after presenting the report of the Senate ad hoc Committee on Oil Lifting, Theft and the Impact on Petroleum Production and Oil Revenues.
The Senator stated that there was nothing wrong with the decision of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), and the Federal Government to engage non-state actors to secure oil pipelines as far as the contract was achieving the objective for its award.
He said that with the award of the contract an appreciable level of achievement had been made in the fight against the scourge of oil theft.
He stressed that the recent engagement of the pipeline surveillance contract to address oil theft is yielding positive results with a noticeable increase in the country’s oil production capacity.
The Senator who commended the NNPCL for the decision said that 500,000 barrels and 87,000 barrels of crude oil per day have been restored in Forcados and Bonny terminals respectively.
He said that the Forcados and Bonny terminals which are major export facilities had not been operational for over seven months because of the oil theft and pipeline vandalism until the decision to engage the security firms.
He recalled that the oil theft had reduced the country’s oil production capacity and caused a loss of Two billion Dollars to the country since January.
“There are both formal and informal approaches to solving the issue. If that contract was contracted duly and processed, we don’t have any issue with it and if it yields desired outcomes, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it.
“We commend the NNPCL for the action. As we speak, the Forcado terminals have restored 500,000 barrels a day to our national production.
“Just about five days ago, the first 87,000 barrels a day were received at the Bonny terminals. So, things are getting better.
“This means that the abridged intervention done recently by the government has yielded positive results because the production would have been shortened and you could imagine the effect on investment because investors will hold back if they cannot derive maximum profits from their investments.”
The Senate had earlier adopted at plenary the recommendations of the ad-hoc committee that the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) should resume full regulatory oversight of all existing crude oil terminals in Nigeria.