An indigenous player in the energy sector, Mr. Victor Ekpenyong, has urged the federal government and oil firms to maximise oil production and leverage on the expertise of Nigerian tech firms to check oil theft.
Ekpenyong, who made the call in an interview with newsmen on Sunday, noted that there was a need to raise oil production beyond current levels to take advantage of increased oil prices in the international market.
He said that although the nation was capable of producing up to 2.5 million barrels of crude oil per day, the activities of oil thieves and vandals, who frequently attacked oil installations, had compelled operators to shut down vandalised assets.
The News Agency of Nigeria reported that Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, Mr. Melle Kyari, at a public event in Abuja on Friday, stated that oil output had nosedived to less than 1.15 million barrels per day due to the upsurge in oil theft and vandalism.
Ekpenyong, who is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Kenyon International West Africa Limited, explained that the indigenous oil services firm had developed a home-grown solution to oil theft and vandalism.
He explained that the solution, which the company referred to as Idle Well Management Solution, was currently being deployed in some oil fields and had proven to be cost-effective and efficient.
The solution, according to him, includes the installation of anti-theft devices on wellheads that makes it impossible to steal crude or vandalise wellheads.
He said that if the solution was adopted across oilfields, oil production would take an upward swing and enable Nigeria to benefit from the rising oil prices.
Ekpenyong said that the package to secure oil installations relied on idle well management practice which helped to monitor idle wells, preventing them from vandalism and theft.
“Nigeria has the capacity to produce nearly 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, but now, it is struggling to produce 1 million-plus barrels a day.
“Some of the factors that caused the plunge in production are vandalism and oil theft. This has inevitably led to some Nigerian companies shutting down their operations.
“To salvage the situation, the government needs to conduct a situational analysis.
“From the information, we have seen so far, the country previously produced more oil, and we should enquire why our oil-producing capacity is plunging as the days go by.
“Now that oil is above US$100 per barrel, we should take advantage of it and maximise our revenue. Our government needs to devise plans on how to safeguard oil and gas assets and conduct community engagement.
“Currently, we have a lot of tech-savvy youths in the country, and in community engagement, citizens can proffer some tech solutions to these problems we face.
“Young people can develop applications that can track vandals. This can be potentially beneficial to both oil companies and the citizens as well,” Ekpenyong said.
He also advocated that the regulatory agencies in the oil and gas sector should ensure that oil companies are following the industry-recommended procedures and best practices.
He expressed optimism that, in a properly regulated environment, where operators imbibed operational practices, oil output would improve and boost the much-needed revenue to the government.