The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has raised the red flag on what it called “flagrant and dangerous” violation of its pipelines’ right-of-way by some individuals and communities along the corridor of the system 2E pipeline network stretching from Port Harcourt (Rivers State) through Aba (Abia), Enugu (Enugu) up to Makurdi (Benue).

In a statement by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, the NNPC said the infringement on the statutorily guaranteed 25-metre setback for the infrastructure was not only detrimental to the free flow of petroleum products but was far more harmful to dwellers of illegal structures and shanties due to the combustible nature of hydrocarbon.

The corporation noted the inseparable link between the cases of oil pipeline right-of-way-encroachment and incessant pipeline vandalism cum oil theft with attendant negative effect on the economy.

According to the NNPC, the creation of the minimum 25-metre buffer for the pipeline is designed to allow for maintenance, repairs and replacements of pipelines as need may arise while ensuring the security and safety of the facility.

The buffer also ensures that those living contiguous to the lines are shielded in cases of leakage, rupture or explosion, the corporation said.

It added that as a first step towards eventual removal of such structures by the team of Army Engineering Corps, its downstream subsidiary, the Nigerian Pipeline and Storage Company (NPSC), embarked on extensive consultation and enlightenment targeted at violators in affected communities.

The corporation noted that the safety and wellbeing of the people remained paramount to its management.

The NNPC explained that based on penetrating reconnaissance executed by the Army engineers – stretching from Ogale-Eleme community in Port Harcourt-Aba axis to Otade community in Enugu-Makurdi leg – structures in violation of the pipeline safety corridor have been identified and clearly marked with notice of imminent removal served on affected occupants.

The corporation noted that the essence of the red flag was to bring urgency to the situation along the PHC-Aba-Enugu-Makurdi line whose level of violation is about 75 per cent stating that the position is intolerable with clear cases of individuals channelling products into private homes.

“Such incidents are not only crystal clear cases of economic sabotage but pose unimaginable danger to the entire neighbourhood,” the statement said.