Nigeria turns to drone technology to fight oil theft

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently announced plans to deploy drones to oversee activities of oil bearing vessels in Nigeria. The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Dr Ibe Kachikwu confirmed this at a Special Conference for Security in Guinea. This development comes after the Nigerian government expressed worry over the incessant vandalism of pipelines and oil theft.

In June, the Commandant General of the NSCDC, Dr. Ade Abodunrin, confirmed that some drones had been deployed for a test run in Niger Delta. He also attributed the arrest of about 350 vandals to the efficiency of the drones during the test run.

In 2014 Nigeria lost over N1.2 trillion to oil theft. The government continues to incur heavy costs in a bid to repair vandalised pipelines and at the end of 2014, recorded losses of 50,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil daily. However Nigeria is not the only African country that has taken an interest in drone technology.

South Africa is not new to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology; there is presently a debate on whether there will be a regulatory framework that allows for legal use of drones in civilian airspace. This would enable farmers to use drones to secure their livestock and crops. Similarly, Kenya’s senate committee recently made public their intention to use drones and CCTV surveillance to track cattle rustling and animal theft in Baringo.

The Nigerian government intends to incorporate drone technology into existing security systems for efficiency while also seeking the support of the international community to help combat insecurity of her waterways.

Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) hinted at the deployment of drones earlier in the year. Oil accounts for 80 percent of government revenue in Nigeria and the insecurity of the sector undermines the state of the economy. Apart from its economic implications, constant oil theft has led to the death of community members, policemen and other security forces manning the maritime areas.

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