Oil Theft: Govt To Acquire Device For Vessels, Cargoes Tracking
THE attempt by the Federal Government to monitor activities at the Floating, Production, Storage and offloading (FPSO) facilities in the country to stop malpractices relating to crude theft may soon be successful.
Government sources said it is planning to introduce a device capable of tracking all vessels with intention to sail into Nigerian waters, for any commercial purpose, before their arrival.
Under the proposal, which the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is believed to have bought into, all vessels that must make any commercial voyage into Nigerian waters would have to key all information about them in a sever to be opened in Belgium.
Such information must contain, the country of origin, the ownership, and capacity in terms of tonnage, among other details that would help government determine, at any point in time, the value and quantity of goods they are taking in and out of the country.
This information, the source said, would be useful to auditors and to avoid revenue leakages through wrong content declaration by vessel owners.
The Nigerian Shippers Council is said to be midwifing the project and the Apex Bank, which is providing the technical collaboration, is supporting it. ‘‘Any vessel coming into Nigeria will have to log into our server to be opened in Belgium, otherwise we will not allow it to sail into the country’s waters.
We will soon make the presentation of the ideals of this scheme to all stakeholders, including those in the oil and gas sector,” said the authoritative source at the Federal Ministry of Transport last week.
The Director of Public Communication at the CBN, Mr. Ibrahim Muazu, who spoke with The Guardian on the matter, said his bank was working in collaboration with many agencies on several issues, adding that the bank was ready to support any good idea in the interest of the country. “We have joint committees that are working with other agencies over time.
There is collaboration with the Nigeria Customs Service and many others. Our own is to give support to ideas and that has been going on. Tracking of vessels and their content is not a new thing because we have records of the vessels.
But this one could be related to the use of technology for their tracking. We can only encourage them. Periodic meetings are on with agencies always in the interest of Nigeria,” he said.
The new device to monitor activities at Crude Oil terminals and on Nigerian waters and to track the inflow and outflow of goods in Nigeria has been applauded by Nigerians, who have promised to buy into it.
Former President, Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, Chris Uwaje applauded the move, but maintained that there was need for local content in the whole arrangement. ‘‘Tracking of vessels and cargoes on Nigerian waters is a simple thing. Such technology should be locally sourced. It is a sensor to monitor physical geographical location of ships.
It can track movement of a ship, using GPRS to know the location of a ship in global water location. We need to keep a data of all ships entering and leaving this country, so as to blacklist anyone that is acting against our regulations. “The CBN and its collaborating agencies will need the input of technical experts.
There are Nigerian technical experts that can do this thing. It is mandatory for them to reach out to the local experts,” he said. Recently, the Federal Government banned 113 vessels from Nigerian waters because there was suspicion of their involvement in oil theft.
They were specifically asked not to call at any Nigerian Crude Oil terminals. But an International Shipping Association, INTER-TANKO had since protested the action against the vessels, saying the Nigerian government failed to state the reasons for the ban.
The body therefore, called on government to lift the ban, until the grounds and evidence for the action have been conveyed to vessel owners for their opportunity to respond. ‘‘The timing of the ban is clearly a political signal to show the Buhari administration is clamping down on oil theft, said Alex Vines, head of the African Programme at Chatham House in London.
Continuing, he said: ‘‘the challenge now is for the Nigerian authorities to provide credible proof that these indexed vessels were engaged in illicit activities.”
Inter Tanko, however, believed that the vessels were targeted by the Nigerian authorities due to their failure to provide official outturn figures at their last call and the commercial differences between load and discharge figures for cargo and free water.
Oil and gas industry watchers said the ban on the vessels could be part of the crackdown on corruption in Nigeria’s Maritime, oil and gas, financial and security sectors, including illegal bunkering and fuel sales.
Any vessel coming into Nigeria will have to log into our server to be opened in Belgium, otherwise we will not allow it to sail into the country’s waters. We will soon make the presentation of the ideals of this scheme to all stakeholders, including those in the oil and gas sector
The activities at the FSPO are not adequately covered by all relevant agencies; hence the country has no accurate statistics of crude lifting from the platforms.
It was even more embarrassing few years ago, when the National Assembly tried to investigate perceived irregularities in fuel subsidy administration, as neither the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) nor the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), even the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) could produce the required information needed by the lawmakers.
While the NPA claimed it depended on data from the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the NCS, which ought to have a presence at the platform said they were not allowed, hence their inability to provide the statistic of oil lifting and importation into the country.
The service image-maker, Wale Adeniyi, a Deputy Comptroller, said last week that the situation has not changed. ‘‘We are not at the crude oil loading platform because the DPR has not given us the permission to be there, even when we were permitted by law to be there.
We have made our submission to the government and as soon as we are allowed to go there, we will acquire necessary infrastructure to go there, either by water or by air.”