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Monday, March 4, 2024

Oil theft: Nigerian lawmaker wants law allowing private security companies to operate on the high seas

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Chairman of the House of Representatives Special Committee on Oil Theft, Alhassan Doguwa, has announced that the House is set to introduce legislation aimed at strengthening the role of private security companies in safeguarding the country’s oil and gas facilities. .

The proposed legislation will establish a comprehensive framework to regulate the activities of such security outfits.

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Doguwa spoke on Friday during an on-the-spot assessment of vessels detained by Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, a private surveillance company operated by former militant leader Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo.

The federal government awarded a major pipeline surveillance contract worth N48 billion per year to Tompolo’s company in 2021, with the aim of curbing widespread oil theft in the region.

Despite such initiatives, Nigeria continues to experience significant oil losses at the hands of vandals, prompting several international oil companies to shift from the onshore to the offshore sector.

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Doguwa emphasized that the proposed legislation aims to empower private security companies to extend their protection services to offshore oil assets, a role constitutionally reserved for the Navy.

Alhassan Doguwa

“We will explore the possibility of creating a legal framework that allows private institutions like Tantita, not only in shallow waters but also in the high seas and deep waters, to combat oil theft and vandalism,” Doguwa said.

He stressed the need to protect the country’s vital oil assets, essential to meeting OPEC quotas and sustaining economic development.

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Doguwa expressed concern over the increasing theft of crude oil and crises in the region and reiterated the House’s commitment to boost oil and gas production.

“At a recent stakeholder meeting with the Minister of Economy, the focus was on overcoming challenges hampering increased production,” Mr Doguwa said.

Waridi Eniusoh, CEO of Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, in his remarks, called for greater collaboration between the government and private security companies to safeguard oil facilities.

He noted that the Navy alone cannot cover the entire maritime area, highlighting the fundamental role that private security companies can play in filling the existing gaps.

Eniusoh emphasized the need to protect offshore facilities as carefully as pipelines, considering vandals’ shift in tactics from land areas to the ocean.

The committees involved in the on-site assessment were composed of Environment, Host Communities, Niger Delta, Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Petroleum Resources (Midstream), Gas Resources and Petroleum Resources (Training Fund).

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