West Africa Oil and Gas Security Summit Pushes Whole-Government Approach
The West Africa Oil and Gas Security 2015 Summit, organized by global Summits organizer IRN, and held 10–11 June 2015 at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, brought together senior-level security specialists from international oil companies (IOCs), national oil companies (NOCs), major service providers, and governmental bodies to discuss the security issues affecting the oil and gas industry in Nigeria and wider West Africa.
In terms of national security, the feeling within the conference was that adopting a whole-governmental approach is essential to improving security in West African countries. All sectors have a responsibility to support the national security establishment because there is a need for greater unity of purpose within the government parastatals to improve security in the country. It was also pointed out that the responsibility lies with Nigerians and foreigners who live, work, or do business in Nigeria for the benefit of all.
This sentiment was also felt in the maritime sessions on the second day, where it appeared that there is not a real political will to implement the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code by the African countries at present. The delegation called for them to come together in partnership with the governments of West Africa to fight piracy, armed robbery attacks, and hijacking in the Gulf of Guinea.
As for local communities, the need for lateral thinking was also highlighted, with delegates pointing out the fact that those working in artisanal refineries require basic engineering expertise. Those engaged in illegal oil production, therefore, could be a great asset to the legal industry if they were trained and invested in by the IOCs and NOCs. It is clear that local communities are still not benefiting enough from the wealth created by the oil and gas industry, and more needs to be done to address this if the industry is to be lucrative.
Additionally, speakers drew attention to the importance of private security, which is gradually coming into the limelight and will continue to be a lucrative profession in years to come. The delegation agreed it should be a collective responsibility to position this profession the same way as it is in the US, the UK, and other countries.
Over 2 days, panel discussions focused on community engagement and corporate social responsibility, as well as on the challenges around disaster and crisis management for the oil and gas industry. Other presentations and case studies focused on topics such as
- Terrorism as a challenge for energy security
- Business travel security
- Managing the threat of kidnap for ransom
- Enhancing security strategies to prevent theft and petty criminality
- Oil theft in the Niger Delta
- Creating a port security plan
Senior level delegates have called the turnout “very impressive,” calling the meeting a “well-organized summit [with] fascinating speakers and very articulated topics.”
The Summit’s official sponsors were the pipeline protection company Atmos International, maritime security experts Ocean Marine Security, security engineering provider Kontz Engineering, canine oil detection services K2 Solutions, bulletproof wears supplier Forts and Shields, and Proton Security Services. The forum was also supported by the Information Security Forum and the Africa Gas Association.