Destined To Disrupt: Nigeria To Deploy Drones To Fight Oil Theft

Destined To Disrupt: Nigeria To Deploy Drones To Fight Oil Theft

Nigeria’s state oil corporation has said it plans to deploy drones to monitor the movement of oil carrying ships and the inland pipeline to curb oil theft in the Africa’s largest  producer and exporter of the commodity.

According to a 2013 report by Chatham House, the west African nation, which is also the largest economy on the continent, loses 100,000 barrels each day to thieves who frequently attack the pipeline and ships transporting oil in the high seas.

Oil generate about 70 percent of Nigeria’s government revenue.

“We are launching an armada of approaches which will include incorporation of drones to check movements of vessels within our territorial waters,” Ibe Kachikwu, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) managing director, said in an official statement quoted by Associated Press.

“We are looking at the current logistical nightmares of changing staffing at the loading bay of crude oil export terminals virtually every 90 days,” he added.

Kachikwu said the company would work more closely with Nigeria’s navy to tackle the problem, BBC News reported.

He said that in the 12-month to June 2015 nearly 4,000 attacks took place on the national pipeline across the country, with 350 people including NNPC workers, policemen, local community members had been killed by oil thieves in the past three years.

At sea, oil theft is estimated to be occuring at an “Industrial scale”, with small barges transferring stolen oil to tankers waiting offshore to take it to international markets.

The Chatham House report pointed fingers at senior politicians and military officers who it said are  involved in the illegal trade.

Drones are already being used by the United Nations (UN) in conflict areas of Africa to survey and deliver crucial assistance to its teams in the field, the global organization said in a report published in February.

The UN also uses drones as deterrence by hovering at lower heights so that they can be seen by militants and remind them they are being watched.