A foremost Niger Delta group, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN has accused the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, of using barges instead of pipelines, to `transport crude from Niger Delta communities.
Head of ERA office in Bayelsa State, Alagoa Morris told TNN in an interview that Agip’s action was an act of economic sabotage and should be halted by the federal government. He said the discovery was made in the course of ERA’s field work.
He said “it never occurred to me that any of the oil companies could abandon their crude oil transporting pipelines before now. But with what we have heard and seen physically, it is real and shocking. It means that even the militarization of the Niger Delta isn’t effective. It has also revealed that more robust engagement with oil producing communities needs to be done.
I say so because the prognosis in terms of this new system of transporting crude oil through tugboat propelled barges is not bright. I foresee a time when demands would be made by communities that the barges shouldn’t traverse the creeks and rivers in their environment; with whatever environmental reasons and that might lead to shootouts in the creeks.
He said rather than use the existing pipelines for the movement of crude oil, the oil firm now prefers to use barges. “The Ogboinbiri/Tebidaba pipeline is one such that, from the look of things is to be abandoned. Instead of transporting crude oil from Ogboinbiri flow station and Okoron/Tebidaba flow station to Brass through the pipelines; these barges would do the transportation.
“When it gets to the tank farm at Brass, the crude oil would then be forwarded through pipelines laid in the sea, to the export terminal. If it is successful, it would be good for government and Agip, but I am not certain of cost implications.
“What I am certain of is that crude oil lost to the smaller thieves would have been drastically reduced or completely eliminated in such environments. However, the bigger thieves would continue to short-change Nigeria and, by extension, Bayelsa state…as they undervalue exported quantities at the point of loading for export. And since such is an economic sabotage, it denies the state and nation of deserved revenues.”
He said he was almost certain that the state and federal governments were aware of the development. “The company cannot just wake up and decide on such.” He also said the NGO could not question Agip over its discovery.
The company did not respond to calls made by our reporter.