Pipeline surveillance contracts are awarded to private firms by government agencies and oil companies. Surveillance contractors are ostensibly tasked with monitoring sections of oil pipeline, identifying any breaks and protecting them from vandalism. However, the concept of pipeline surveillance contracts in the Niger Delta is a misnomer. They rarely involve any actual surveillance, but are used as a disguised ‘payment for peace’ to agitator groups and as patronage for political allies. Factors such as a lack of local participation in the oil and gas industry necessitate the existence of this system of pipeline surveillance, to avoid pipeline vandalism and other criminal activities that may disrupt oil and gas production.
Pipeline surveillance contracts have similar short-term effects as amnesty programme payments to ex-agitators. They are not sustainable, especially as they are not part of a more holistic security and development plan. There is growing pressure among a number of regional stakeholders for community pipeline surveillance as part of a solution to protect oil and gas infrastructure. However, there has been no tangible progress made by the Federal Government towards implementation, and it remains unclear whether a community-based system could avoid the pitfalls of the current approach… read the full report.