Incidents of pipeline vandalism are on the rise in the country, with an unprecedented increase of about 224 percent in 2011 compared to the number of such cases in 2010.
A total of 2,787 line breaks were reported on pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), resulting in a loss of 157.81mt of petroleum products worth about N12.53 billion.
Data available to Daily Trust shows that a total number of 2,768 cases were recorded in 2011 as against 836 cases in the previous year.
The NNPC data also indicated that pipelines along Gombe axis recorded worse attacks with 850 cases within the period, followed by Kaduna's system with 571 cases.
The pipelines along Warri axis recorded 548 cases of vandalism while Mosimi system pipelines in Lagos recorded 463 cases and the Port Harcourt recorded lesser cases with 336 points vandalised.
NNPC recorded 19 cases of pipeline breakages due to system deterioration within the period.
The cases recorded in 2011 were the worse since the amnesty programme of the Federal Government began in 2008. The hostility in the Niger Delta Region was reduced following the programme, which facilitated the repair of some pipelines, but suddenly the menace is escalating.
Recently, the House of Representatives raised alarm over the spate of vandalism of petroleum product pipelines and expressed fear that the issue has grave consequences on the entire economy of the country.
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Downstream), Mr. Dakuku Peterside said in Lagos that the persistent pipeline vandalism was impacting on not just downstream operation but the upstream and mid-stream operations of the Nigerian oil and gas sector.
He said: "We think that all agencies in the sector must work together to combat what I can call terrorism of the industry."
The immediate past Group Managing Director of NNPC, Austen Oniwon, said that pipeline vandalism presents the single biggest threat to the smooth operation of the petroleum industry in Nigeria.
"If left unchecked, Nigeria will wake up one day to discover that pipeline thieves have taken over the country," he had said.
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(Originally published July 24, 2012, in Daily Trust.)