Nigerian troops will provide security for the state oil company’s pipelines in a bid to prevent the theft of oil, the presidency said on Tuesday.
President Muhammadu Buhari has said about 250,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude is stolen in Nigeria, which produces more than 2 million bpd and is Africa’s biggest producer of crude.
The head of the National Nigerian Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, met armed forces chief General Gabriel Olonishakin on Tuesday to discuss a proposal for soldiers to provide security for the corporation’s equipment and assets.
Olonishakin assured him of military support, Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, said.
The Nigerian navy already conducts patrols to fight vandalism but Adesina said Kachikwu also wants to secure the use of more boats and air force involvement.
The oil-rich Niger delta has been plagued by crude theft for years that has left the region heavily polluted and prompted foreign oil companies, particularly Shell, to sell onshore assets.
Under Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, ex-delta militants who had attacked oil installations in the early 2000s were given pipeline protection contracts after an amnesty but theft has continued to grow.