In any given country, pipelines play an important role in providing the needed fuels for sustaining vital functions such as power generation, heating supply and transportation. But when pipelines are not adequately maintained, there is a tendency that they might turn to instruments of wastage.
In Nigeria, pipeline and storage depots for the distribution of petroleum products are divided into five operational zones. They include Port-Harcourt, Warri, Mosimi, Kaduna and Gombe operational zones. These are administered by Pipelines and Products Marketing Company Limited (PPMC), a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), for easy distribution of products across the country.
However, a total of 3,035.62 metric tonnes of petroleum products valued at N191.8 billion was lost by the five operational zones in
the last one decade (2003-2012), as shown in the NNPC annual statistical bulletin.
Among the five operational zones, Port Harcourt recorded the highest product loss of 1,301.69 metric tonnes valued at N77.7 billion.
This represents 42 percent of the total products lost by the five operational zones.
Mosimi operational zone, located at Ejigbo in Lagos State, had the second-highest record of products lost, which is 1,295.54 metric tonnes valued at N86.9 billion; while Warri operational zone came third with the loss of 344.91 metric tonnes of petroleum product valued at N20.8 billion.
The Kaduna operational zone occupied the fourth position with total product loss of 63.27 metric tonnes valued at N4.9 billion; while Gombe operational zone accounted for the least products lost to the tune of 30.21 metric tonnes valued at N1.5 billion.
The loss in the operational zones can be attributed to pipeline failure which is caused mainly by ageing, corrosion, mechanical failure such as welding defects, pressure surge problems, stress, and wall thickness, according to a research by C. H. Achebe, U. C. Nneke and O.E.Anisiji.
The research finding also shows that 42 percent of pipeline failure was caused by mechanical-induced problem, 18 percent by corrosion, 24 percent by third-party activities, 10 percent by operational error, and the remaining 6 percent was caused by natural hazards.
This is in consonance with data released by NNPC on pipeline vandalism and rupture. A total of 20,381 and 303 cases of pipeline vandalism and rupture were recorded, respectively, during the 10-year period. We observed that operational zones which recorded large proportion of product loss simultaneously had large cases of pipeline vandalism and rupture.
Port Harcourt operational zone, being a zone with the highest record of product loss, had 7,553 cases of pipeline vandalism, which
was the highest among the operational zones, and 49 cases of pipeline ruptures.
In the case of Mosimi zone, it had 86 cases of rupture, making it second on pipeline rupture chart. It also occupied the third place
on pipeline vandalism table with 3,597 cases. With 4,297 cases of pipeline vandalism, Warri operational zone occupied the second
place after Port-Harcourt on pipeline vandalism chart.
The northern operational zone, Kaduna, accounted for the least cases of pipeline vandalism with 2,303 cases, while Gombe had the
least record of pipeline rupture with 7 cases.
On year-by-year analysis, 2005 recorded the highest number of product loss to the tune of 661.81 metric tonnes valued at N41.6
billion. The increase in products lost during this year under consideration was due to pipeline vandalism and rupture to the tune
of 2,237 and 21 cases, respectively. But this is also partly attributable to fire outbreak because the year 2005 had the highest record of fire outbreaks with 117 cases.