Oil Theft: NPA Begins Move To Procure Technology That Detects Rogue Ships
Fred Omotara, Lagos
The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko has explained that the agency is now in the process of procuring a technology called the Vessel Tracking Service (VTS) to enable it to identify, locate and monitor all vessels in the nation’s waters, even when such vessels switch off their Automatic Identification System (AIS).
Koko stated this while briefing State House correspondents on Tuesday in Abuja, stating that the Authority currently does not have the technology to detect rogue ships when they turn off their AIS.
Speaking against the backdrop of a recent incident where an oil tanker evaded arrest in Nigeria after illegally lifting crude oil, Koko said that rogue vessels that engage in crude oil theft on Nigerian waters go undetected because they turn off their AIS.
According to him, the agency has been trying to acquire the VTS for about 10 years now and has just identified a certified consultant, while also working with the Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) Company to help with critical detection.
He further assured that the technology will be procured before the end of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Worried by the ugly trend, the Federal Government in August awarded a pipeline surveillance contract to Tantita Security Services, a company led by former militant leader Government Ekpemepulo aka Tompolo, a situation that received criticisms from many Nigerians.
In August, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, justified the government’s decision to award the multi-billion naira pipelines surveillance contract to Tantita Security Services.
Tompolo’s firm recently made startling revelations on crude oil theft in the Niger Delta area. He said about 58 illegal oil points have been discovered so far since the operation to end oil theft on the waterways of Delta and Bayelsa states began