Crude oil theft has being an excruciating factor towards efficient harnessing of Nigeria oil and gas economy. This ugly economic situation was previously attributed to militia insurgency in Niger Delta but has been believed to been quenched via Federal Government amnesty program. The sudden resurfacing of this economic sabotage at higher scale now that PIB is passed into law and all the accruable benefits are in the offing is quite unfathomable. 

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, in his recent speech has expressed his total dissatisfaction on crude oil theft as frustrating efforts of the government in attracting fresh direct foreign investments into the oil and gas industry through the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act.

Malam Kyari bared his utmost displeasure to this ugly trend during his appearance in the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) on the menace of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the country. Also before the lawmakers were the Chairman of the NNPC Board Mrs Margery Okadigbo and some senior management staff of the NNPC.

 “No doubt, it is a very difficult circumstance for the industry and that is why despite the good intentions and the provisions of the PIA, no one will produce oil and recover zero, and still put money back into the business. That is why investments are very weak despite the good fiscal environment that PIA has brought.

“If I have the privilege to answer questions around our investment climate on international platforms, they ask me, ‘We will bring our money, how are you sure they will not steal the oil?’ It is very difficult to give a very straight answer. Of course, with what we are doing now, we will contain it and we will bring back stability,”MeleKyari, GMD NNPC, posited.

He further highlighted measures taken so far by the federal government and other major stakeholders towards restoring production and improving revenue for the country.

These include Malam Kyari, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva and the Chief of Defence Staff Lucky Iraborecent visit to the Niger Delta for an on-the-spot assessment of the activities of the illegal refinery operations and pipeline vandals, a follow up military operations to dislodge these undesirable elements off the creeks.

“The Nigerian Navy is currently carrying out serious military operations in the Niger Delta to ensure that oil and gas assets are protected,” He said.

Speaking on the development, Kyari who showed the lawmakers photos and videos of how the country’s crude oil assets are being vandalised and the products stolen, described menace as a big challenge to the oil and gas industry.

A recent report as released last month during a meeting on crude oil theft between the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission and Oil Producers Trade Section, as well as the Independent Petroleum Producers Group, showed that between January 2021 and February 2022, Nigeria lost $3.2bn to crude oil theft. Placing the current cost a barrel equivalent side by side with the above figure shows that an average of 3 million barrel of crude oil is being stolen monthly out of Nigeria shore. The report revealed that oil theft rose significantly between 2021 and 2022, with over 90 per cent of total crude produced at the Bonny Terminal stolen in January 2022.

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