The economic quagmire that the Nigerian government has found itself all all levels appears to be far away from its terminal end as the pipeline that conveys the nation’s crude for export has been shut down.
The Trans Nigeria Pipeline that carries Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude oil to an export terminal has been shut down since May 12, a Shell spokeswoman said on Thursday.
Neither the reason for the shut down nor its expected duration were not immediately clear. Traders have said Bonny Light loadings have been delayed by up to four days over the past week.
The Street Journal however, gathered that the export terminal was shut down due to the continued vandalisation of the pipeline by militants and other hoodlums in the region. An ex-militant leader of Uroboh origin recently own up to the pipeline vandalisation in the Niger-Delta because his group and none from the Uroboh part of the region was considered for pipeline surveillance contract recently awarded to OPC, Tompolo and other ex-militant warlords in the Niger Delta.
It was further gathered that the pipeline vandalisation also affected gas pipeline in region which precipitated heavy drop in electricity megawatts generated by the various electricity companies in the company; a development that has led to a near total blackout across the country.
As one of the leading oil-producing countries in Africa, The Street Journal reports that Nigeria loses billions of dollars to the activities of vandals of petroleum products pipelines. The oil bunkering business is as old as the discovery of crude oil in the ancient community of Oloibiri in the old Rivers State but now in Bayelsa State.
Aside hostage taking, oil bunkering business, even though illegal, is another thriving business not only in the Niger Delta region but also in the other states of the federation where there are oil installations or wherever the petroleum products pipeline run through. Though, youths from the other region participate in the business, the focus has always been on the Niger Delta region because of the volume of the activities of bunkerers carried out in the region and as a result of its proximity to the oil installations in the county. For instance, at a location in Lagos State, early this year, no fewer than 40 people were roasted to death in the process of siphoning fuel from broken pipelines.
While some people blamed the fire incident resulting from the petroleum pipeline vandalisation on the ruptured pipelines, the affected oil companies, in their own defence, always attributed it to the activities of the pipelines vandals. The activities of the vandals in recent past have led to the unplanned exit of some oil companies in the region, which in turn has affected the economy of the region.
The Street Journal recently reported that a gang of Ijaw militants stormed Arepo community at the Ogun State boundary with Lagos State to engage in pipeline vandalisation and oil siphoning in the full glare of the residents of the community. A young lady with a six-month old pregnancy was gunned down in the ensued cross-fire between the hoodlums and members of the OPC that had been contracted by the Jonathan administration to wade off vandals from the pipelines.
Men of the Nigerian police had alleged that their men had just been withdrawn by superior authorities for OPC to take charge of the surveillance activities in the area when the incident occurred.
The Street Journal reports that the incidence of pipeline vandalisation has further exacerbated the excruciating effect of the dwindling revenue accruable to the federation account sequel to the heavy drop in the prices of crude oil in the international market.
Many states of the federation are however, owing workers backlog of salary arrears ranging between three and eight months due to paucity of funds worsened by mismanagement of scarce resources . One of the debtor states, it was gathered, is owing teachers up to twelve months salaries in the midst of flamboyant lifestyle of the governors and other political office holders in the various states.
Analysts are of the opinion that the nation appears to be sitting on a keg of gun powder as the socio-economic impact of a pauperized population may soon begin manifest on the society.