Oil and gas activities on Nigeria’s territorial waters are currently under threat as maritime crime continues unabated.
Some energy, security and maritime experts, who spoke at the ongoing Global Maritime Security Conference organised by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in Abuja, said the spate of attack in the Gulf of Guinea was a dangerous signal for the petroleum sector, noting that any daring attack would be disastrous.
The energy specialists decried the spate of attacks on tanker vessels conveying petroleum products, while raising alarm on the criminal act of smuggling petroleum products through the high sea.
Security expert within the Corporate Security Division, Total Group, Gilles Chalancon, said as private oil and gas sector, the firm was concerned about maritime security.
“Last year we noticed more incidences on the waters, attacking tanker vessels. During the first quarter of 2019, we have also noticed increased firepower from the attackers showing that they are more coordinated and determined. The fact that they are showing more determination shows that we should also display more determination as well,” he said.
Total has more than 20 major assets offshore, alongside other oil and gas companies such as Chevron, Mobil, Shell, and Agip among others.
Chalancon said the oil and gas companies always implement prompt and appropriate responses, such as to defend and make the production platforms safe, but the arm response is not within their capability.
He said they were working to reduce human exposure and deploy a facility protection boat for a safer terrain.
He, therefore, said that the maritime security could be enhanced by sharing information and deployment of technology.
Chief Executive Officer, AO Blue Economy and Energy Consulting (AOBEEC), Adekola Oyenuga, said focus had always been on land and the treats were linked to the sea.
He suggested that cyber security must be ready to adopt strategies to attack them, adding that any assault on facilities would be disastrous.
Senior Analyst at Risk Intelligence, Denmark, Dirk Siebels, said in April 2019, some crews were kidnapped from product tanker that was later investigated for alleged involvement in fuel smuggling.
“As many of the criminal groups are also smuggling fuel from Nigeria to neighbouring countries, these activities are posing threat to the nations’ economy, especially as Nigeria relies on petroleum products.”
He said combating piracy is completely different from fighting smuggling, hence the need for actionable strategies.
He emphasised that there must be a coordinated effort, coupled with transparent legal regulations to enable legal operations on the sea, adding that operators should cooperate with security agencies to enforce the law.