The federal government has announced plans to employ the use of technology in the clamping down on pipeline vandals and crude thieves in the country.
President Goodluck Jonathan made this known on Saturday at a two-day oil and gas investment forum in Onne, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Jonathan, who was represented by the Senate President, David Mark, said his administration has embarked on a number of “far-reaching measures” to tackle the menace, including putting in place mechanism to ensure that vandals find it extremely difficult to access petroleum pipelines.
“Government is exploring the possibility of using electronic pipeline surveillance to track down oil theft. To this end, I am calling on all relevant industries to ensure that all oil and gas related cargo are discharged only at the designated terminals,” he said.
The President also directed relevant agencies to ensure strict enforcement on the ban on the illegal discharge of cargo and receiving of vessels at private jetties, adding that steps should be taken to guard against the breach of national security and loss of revenue to the government.
Jonathan said the choice of the Onne oil and gas free trade zone was strategic, as it will showcase the investors’ confidence in the Nigerian economy.
According to him, government generated revenue in the zone has increased from $5.4 billion to $7.1 billion in 2013 and the Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, from $4 billion to $4.2 billion dollars in 2013.
“Available statistics indicate that the companies operating in the free zone have increased from 150 in 2011 to 170 in 2013, employment regeneration has increased from 30,000 in 2011 to 34,000 in 2013. Support to family livelihood has grown from 180,000 in 2011 to 200,000 in 2013. If these indices are not indicating an attractive environment for investors, I wonder what else they are,” he said.
The minister of industry, trade and investment, Olusegun Aganga, said the Oil and Gas Free Zone, OGFTZ, would continue to be a catalyst for the diversification of the economy.
“The oil and gas industry remains the prime mover of Nigeria’s economy, while the OGFTZ concept continues to be strategic in the facilitating of private sector investments in the sector,” he said.