Huawei develops new technology to combat oil theft in Nigeria


Huawei Technologies, a Chinese multinational technology firm, has disclosed that it has developed an intelligent pipeline monitoring system to help tackle crude oil theft in Nigeria. This information was revealed by the Director of Huawei Nigeria Enterprise Business, Li Wei, at a news briefing on Tuesday in Abuja, at the ongoing Nigerian International Energy Summit.

According to the director, the new technology, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) will help to ensure pipeline safety and reduce theft and vandalism through its highly precise and accurate system.

Huawei-developed fibre vibration intrusion warning system uses Artificial Intelligence to identify intrusion scenarios accurately. With high identification precision, accurate positioning, and quick response, it will help to ensure pipeline safety and reduce theft and vandalism.

Director of Huawei Nigeria Enterprise Business, Mr Li Wei

Nigeria is one of the world’s largest crude producers – crude oil been a significant source of revenue for the nation – but has suffered oil theft more than tolerable.

Nigeria loses as much as 150,000 barrels of oil a day to criminals who illegally tap pipelines crisscrossing the Niger Delta region, according to the CEO of Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Gbenga Komolafe.

In its latest audit report made public in July 2021, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) indicated that in 2019, Nigeria lost 42.25 million barrels of crude oil to oil theft, valued at $2.77 billion. This was meant to be an improvement (imagine!) because, in 2018, 53.28 million barrels were stolen. And then, in 2021, 193 million barrels of crude vanished from Nigeria’s resources.

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These statistics are indicative of the gravity of the problem, one which Huawei acknowledges as a top priority hence creating a solution.

“Faced with the ongoing volatility of international oil prices, Huawei believes that the digital transformation of Nigeria’s upstream sector is a top priority,” Wei added.

Tech in Oil

Huawei oil theft

Oil theft is a menace to the extent that Nigerian production fell last year to less than 1.5 million barrels a day of crude equivalent in December from about 1.7 million barrels in January, according to NUPRC data. That’s lower than the quota set by OPEC+ for Nigeria.

Each administration of the country has tried to curb the issue, all to no avail. In 2019, The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) worked with French data firm Kpler to help it tackle smugglers plying Nigerian waters and using satellite data and the firm’s software. Kpler’s platform monitors 24/7, logging erratic journeys like this and changes to ships’ drafts that indicate cargoes’ on or off-loading into an algorithm for the DPR to interpret. 

In September 2021, the federal government decided to set up an inter-ministerial committee on the recovery of crude oil and illegally refined petroleum products in the Niger Delta region comprising the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), all backed by the armed forces and security agencies. Yet, by the end of the year, 193 million barrels of crude oil could not be accounted for.

With the advent of more new technology, oil theft will hopefully become a thing of the past. Huawei on its part is committed to introducing high-quality ICT solutions and services, as well as actively supporting the Nigerian government in building a talent ecosystem.

Wei added that the company had signed an ICT academy agreement with over 110 universities and schools and had trained more than 1,000 civil servants and 40,000 young students in Nigeria in order to “build a strong talent base camp to promote Nigeria’s digital economy development.’’

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