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August 02, 2014
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Atlas Cove Attack: How Gallant NNPC Engineers Saved Nigeria from Fuel Calamity
Fresh insight has emerged of how the gallantry of a team of engineers and technicians from the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, PPMC a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC prevented what would have amounted to the mother of all fuel scarcity in the wake of the July militant attack on the Atlas Cove Storage Jetty reputed to be the nations largest platform for the storage and distribution of petroleum products.

On Sunday July 12, 2009 a group of militant believed to be operatives of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND armed to the teeth and moving in a convoy of speed boats unleashed terror on the jetty destroying the central manifold after killing some security men on guard.

But welcoming members of the House Committee on Downstream Petroleum last Thursday who came on a fact finding mission to the Atlas Cove sequel to the corruption allegation levelled against the NNPC management by a national newspaper, Reginald Stanley, Managing Director of the PPMC narrated how the depot engineers ignored obvious security threat to mobilise to site hours after the deadly attack.

Led by Engineer Anthony Onwuka the Atlas Cove Depot Manager the team which included a handful of technicians, welders and fabricators worked round the clock to salvage the situation within 36 hours after the attack.

``you can’t imagine what these brave Nigerians went through to restore the situation. At a period when the militants were still warming up to stage a second attack these guys risked their lives to save the nation from fuel disaster because they know what is at stake if Atlas Cove is shut down. This place accounts for 12 million litres out of the 30million litres of fuel that is consumed everyday in Nigeria ’’, he stated.

Stanley remarked that it is weird for anybody to insinuate that the NNPC has abandoned the Atlas Cove in preference for private depots because of the phantom pecuniary interest of a `certain clique’ within the corporation as alleged by the newspaper report.

``it sounds unreasonable for anybody to argue that we have abandoned this place. It is not possible and practicable for us to do so because this is the heartbeat of fuel storage and distribution in the country’’.

He stated that Jetty which was damaged during the attack has since been reconnected to the depot through a temporary bye-pass which allows ships to berth. The depot is now fully connected to the discharge point as was the case before the militants struck.

Speaking at the end of the fact finding mission which saw the committee inspecting the facilities of Capital Oil Limited and Folawiyo Jetty operated by Folawiyo Energy Services Limited all in Apapa, Hon. Clever Ikisikpo Chairman of the House Committee on Downstream passed a vote of confidence on the NNPC and operators of the private depot for forging a workable partnership.

“We came here on account of what we read in the report. They told us that the Atlas Cove has been abandoned but from what we have seen the place is still working and operating at optimal capacity despite the July 12 militant attack. The allegation of N75m daily bribe is baseless and without any foundation,” Ikisikpo said.

He commended Capital Oil and Folawiyo Energy Services Limited for collaborating with the PPMC to ensure that adequate storage facilities were provided for imported petroleum products.

“There is nothing to suggest any form of underhand dealing or sharp practice, rather Capital Oil and Folawiyo Energy Services Limited should be commended for supporting the NNPC and PPMC instead of accusing the officials of going into the partnership for selfish reasons,” he concluded.

Commissioned in 1981, Atlas Cove Depot is designed as a transit depot to supply all the depots along system 2B- Ejigbo Satellite, Mosimi, Ibadan , Ilorin and Ore , regarded as the most active depot system in the country.
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