The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria's oil and gas industry have been urged to bury the pipelines deeply underground, to make them inaccessible to oil thieves and vandals.
Stakeholders at the recent community-focused conference on 'Oil Theft and Illegal Oil Bunkering', organised by the office of the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, suggested that encasing the pipelines in depths would curb incessant crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in Nigeria.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the event, obtained by THISDAY at the weekend, the stakeholders also recommended that headquarters of oil companies be moved to the Niger Delta, Nigeria's oil producing region.
They also urged the oil companies to institute a more transparent oil loading regime and "stop forthwith the loading of plus five per cent on every vessel", which provides lifters the opportunity to exceed their approved allocations.
According to the stakeholders, increased collaboration between the international community and the federal government was necessary in combating oil theft and illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea.
They also called on the international community to commence oil finger printing to curtail stolen crude from the demand side. Participants also resolved that defeating oil theft and illegal bunkering would require enhanced intelligence gathering system with advance electronic and community input.
The stakeholders also enjoined the oil companies to stop the unsystematic destruction of illegal oil theft facilities, noting that it only compounds environmental damage. They instead recommended the establishment of joint mini-refineries to absorb illegal refineries and engage local communities.
They also noted that facilitating socio-economic development of the Niger Delta was one sure way to curtail criminality in the oil sector, and called on the federal government to immediately mandate and fund the cleanup of the Niger Delta.
The conference was held against the backdrop of the incessant theft and illegal bunkering of crude oil in the Niger Delta. The socio-economic impact of the menace, the gathering observed, include environmental degradation, loss of economic activities for communities, loss of revenue to the government resulting in inadequate funding for development initiatives, increased criminality in the region, lack of security due to illegal activities and infiltration of international collaborators, and bad image for the country.
The Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, who was the convener, reiterated the commitment of President Goodluck Jonathan to defeat oil theft and restore sanity in the sector, adding "only zero tolerance is good enough. No effort is too little and none too big to be spared in this regard".