In 2013, VICE extensively covered the issue of illegal oil theft in Nigeria. The documentary not only highlighted the illegal oil refineries but exposed the underlying issues such as natural resources benefiting only a few members of the society. The oil sector in Nigeria has faced various shortcomings among them serious issues to do with the environment, wanton corruption and massive oil theft. Oil multinationals have been accused of grossly degrading the environment culminating in suits in their motherlands. Former Nigeria Central Bank head alleged that over $20 Billion has been siphoned from state coffers before being hounded out of office. Nigerian’s new president has taken it upon himself to clean up the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the state owned body responsible for managing oil coffers. On the oil theft bit, a report in 2013 by Royal Dutch Shell, that nearly $1 Billion worth of oil and natural gas was stolen, which is a massive amount by any means.
As expected, technology will play a huge part in the whole cleaning exercise of the entire sector. According to Quartz Africa, the Nigerian government is seeking to deploy drones to supplement surveillance activities on all oil installations aimed at tackling oil theft. Once fully deployed, the drones will monitor the movement of ships along the coastal areas as well as the extensive pipeline network. Government officials and industry insiders in Nigeria are known to use their own vessels to transport the stolen oil without exactly paying any revenues to the government. The 500 drones will also monitor pipelines, which are attacked on the ground and oil siphoned before being refined. Testing drones for the project begun in June with full deployment beginning this September.