The Federal Government is exploring the possibility of using an electronic pipeline surveillance to track oil theft in the country, President Goodluck Jonathan, said on Saturday.
Jonathan gave this indication in his closing remarks 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, described the menace of oil theft as worrisome, stressing, however, that government was ready to tackle it headlong.
“Relevant regulatory agencies are working round the clock to combat the challenge, considering the strategic position of oil and gas in the economy.
“My administration has embarked on a number of far-reaching measures to combat these unwholesome activities. Government is exploring the possibility of using electronic pipeline surveillance to track down oil theft.”
While stressing that the government was putting in place mechanism to ensure that vandals found it extremely difficult to access petroleum pipelines, the president gave assurance of continuous support to an investment drive in the sector.
“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 directed that the agencies concerned should also ensure strict enforcement on the ban on the illegal discharge of cargo and receiving of vessels at private jetties.
He said 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 as “seeing is believing”.
According to him, government generated revenue in the zone has increased from $5.4 billion to $7.1 billion in 2013 and the 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, Dr 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 facilitation of private sector investments in the sector.”
The Rivers Gov., Rotimi Amaechi, in an interview with newsmen, called on investors to ensure optimum utilisation of investment opportunities in the state, to promote maximum economic growth in the country.
He said that investments in the OGFTZ over the years, had been successful due to the existing climate that is peaceful and conducive to business..
“I call on investors to take advantage of the peaceful investment that is conducive to the business climate, put in place by the present administration,” Amaechi added.