As Nigeria, with a total estimated GDP of $522.4 billion at purchasing power parity, seeks to diversify its internally generated revenue through the active maximisation of its gas resource, calls for the installation and safeguarding of modern infrastructure has been on the rise.
Upon government reiteration of its commitment to stimulating economic growth through the development of the energy sector with the implementation of projects expected to attract over $30billion in gas infrastructure investment, it is hoped that this will serve as an incentive to retain foreign interests as more international oil companies are engaging in the sale of their onshore oil fields.
According to reports by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), about 3,571 pipelines out of its 5,120km network were destroyed in 2013 alone at a cost of N38.8 billion with most of the damage carried out in the South-South and South-Western regions.
In the same vein, the wreckage of crude transporting tubes which has led to loss in revenue as well as a reduction in production capacities of energy-generating companies within the sector has raised ripples of concern over the possible sabotage of the gas pipelines after they are fully functional.
However, with global energy companies like Shell, British Petroleum and ConocoPhillips employing the services of drone surveillance in monitoring and checking wells at extreme underwater depths for deep water oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, a panacea to the damage done by saboteurs may be in view.
In July, Iraqi oil minister Abdel-Karim Luaibi said that Baghdad had given priority to protection of oil facilities and operators, thus it has made ready drones to start flying over the Basra region.
He said two drones were ready to start monitoring the skies over Basra “to provide a clearer picture of the southern oilfields and energy installations… This is the first time Iraq is using drones to fly over the energy installations the south.”
In Colombia, the military, which is working with private security forces hired by oil companies to conduct surveillance on oil producing infrastructure, has also purchased more than a half-dozen surveillance drones.
Plagued by frequent pipeline vandalism, Nigeria may well have to consider the use of drones.
Source: Business Day