THE menace of pipeline vandalism and oil theft may have cost the nation about $243 million (N38.8 billion) in 2013, according to the Nigerian National Petroluem Corporation (NNPC).
The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Joseph Dawah, who made this known at an industry event in Abuja recently, said Nigeria lost $243 million worth of oil products last year from sabotage to the country's pipeline network.
He said the pipeline vandals punctured about 3,571 cases on the pipelines last year.
With about 6,000 pipeline network in the country, Dawah said the nation's loss to vandalism was increased from N21.48b (2,230 cases) in 2012 to N38.8 billion in 2013.
"These acts have resulted to loss of revenue by the government and production capacity at our refineries," Dawha added.
He said the government would need to develop "critical infrastructure and key resources protection" in line with that of the United States, and also called for an increase to prosecution rates in theft cases.
However, Dawah's disclosure was related to the recent comment by the Managing Director of Pipeline Product Marketing Company (PPMC), Haruna Momoh, in Lagos, that Nigeria has recorded 34,042 case of pipeline vandalism and rupture in the last 14 years (1999-2013).
Momoh identified five major five states where vandals carry out their nefarious operations often refer to as 'Hot Spots' to include; Gombe, Kaduna, Mosimi, Port Harcourt and Warri in Delta states.
According to him, the activities of pipeline vandals in the country have led to the loss of 712, 776 metric tons cubic meters of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS also known as petrol in the last four years.
Within the same year, he said the country lost 1,310,139 metric tons cubic meters of crude oil, 9,548M3 of Dual Purpose Kerosene, DPK and 37,054M3 of Automated Gas Oil, AGO also known as diesel.
The PPMC boss stated that the unpatriotic activities of economic saboteurs have led to the disruption of crude oil supply from Escravos to Warri and Port Harcourt refineries through pipelines.
Momoh further explain that the federal government has been forced to use marine vessels for crude oil deliveries to refineries as a result of pipeline vandals activities.
NNPC data released last week showed that the refineries operated at an average of 15 per cent of their combined nameplate capacity of 445,000 b/d in the first quarter of this year, down from 22 per cent at the end of last year.
He reiterated that the Federal Government needs to develop a national plan for critical infrastructure and key resources protection similar to the United States National Infrastructure Protection Plan to secure the nation's pipelines.
"The Federal Government should likewise declare the pipelines as strategic national assets and set up a special force to protect them," he said.
He however lamented some constrains in the legal and regulatory frame work in enforcing punishment against pipeline vandals.
"Under the Nigerian Legal system, the police, upon arrest of suspects are only empowered to commence criminal proceedings at the magistrate courts.
"The law against pipeline vandalism specify prosecution at the Federal High Court. This has created difficult situation for prosecution to proceed diligently.
"There is a need to amend the laws to allow speed prosecution of suspect.
"PPMC cannot privately pursue the prosecution of criminal matter without obtaining of FIAT from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation "The Oil Pipeline Act, Cap 338 of 1990 and the oil pipeline regulation which are made pursuant to the act does not establish sanction for the violation of pipelines or disruption of the distribution of crude oil or refined petroleum products, " he lamented.