President Goodluck Jonathan said the Federal Government was planning to deploy electronic surveillance to track oil theft in the country.
Jonathan said this at the weekend while delivering closing remarks at a twoday oil and gas investment forum in Onne, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The President, who spoke through the Senate President, David Mark, described the menace of oil theft as worrisome, stressing, however, that government was ready to tackle it headlong.
He said: “Relevant regulatory agencies are working round the clock to combat the challenge, considering the strategic position of oil and gas in the economy.
“My administration has embarked on a number of far-reaching measures to combat these unwholesome activities. Government is exploring the possibility of using electronic pipeline surveillance to track down oil theft.”
While stressing that the government was putting in place mechanism to ensure that vandals found it extremely difficult to access petroleum pipelines, the President gave assurance of continuous support to an investment drive in the sector.
He said: “To this end, I am calling on all relevant industries to ensure that all oil and gas related cargoes are discharged only at the designated terminals.”
Jonathan directed that the agencies concerned should also ensure strict enforcement on the ban on the illegal discharge of cargoes and receiving of vessels at private jetties.
He said steps should be taken to guard against the breach of national security and loss of revenue to the government.
The President said the choice of the Onne oil and gas free trade zone was strategic, as it would showcase investors’ confidence in the Nigerian economy, because “seeing is believing”.
According to him, government generated revenue in the zone increased from $5.4 billion to $7.1 billion in 2013 and the FDI from $4 billion to $4.2 billion dollars.
He said: “Available statistics indicate that the companies operating in the free zone have increased from 150 in 2011 to 170 in 2013, employment regeneration has increased from 30,000 in 2011 to 34,000 in 2013.
“Support to family livelihood has grown from 180,000 in 2011 to 200,000 in 2013. If these indices are not indicating an attractive environment for investors, I wonder what else they are.”
Also speaking at the forum, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, said the Oil and Gas Free Zone, OGFTZ, would continue to be a catalyst for the diversification of the economy.
In a sideline interview, Rivers Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, called on investors to ensure optimum utilisation of investment opportunities in the state, to promote maximum economic growth in the country.
He said investments in the OGFTZ over the years had been successful due to the existing climate peaceful and conducive to business.