By OBAFEMI OREDEIN
IBADAN -- The Nigerian National Petroleum Co. (NNPC) said that it has no plan to set up an agency to protect pipelines in the country.
Tumini Green, NNPC's spokeswoman, said in a statement that the corporation and its subsidiary Pipelines and Produce Marketing Co. aren't privy to any plan by the federal government to up the agency or a commission to protect the pipelines, as some media has reported.
Oil thieves frequently attack and damage pipelines in the country's Niger Delta oil region. Shell Petroleum Development Co. (SPDC) Managing Director Mutiu Sunmonu said more than 60,000 bpd is stolen from the company alone. SPDC is a Nigerian subsidiary of Shell.
Security forces operating in the Niger Delta to stem oil thefts have largely been unsuccessful and the government is reported to have awarded lucrative contracts to former militant leaders in the Niger Delta to protect pipelines.
Ms. Green said the NNPC has been exploring the options of collaborating with the security agencies and communities to curtail pipeline sabotage. She added that the Joint Task Force, the military unit set up by the government to fight militancy and stop the sabotage of pipelines and oil thefts, has "been of great help in tackling the menace in the Niger Delta.
"We sincerely believe that these efforts and the engagement we are having with the communities will help check and eventually end pipeline vandalism. We neither believe in nor support the establishment of any agency for the specific purpose of protecting pipelines," Ms. Green said.
Dow Jones Newswires