Experts call for an emergency declaration in the oil and gas sector
Escalating oil theft by criminals is draining the country’s resources. Industry operators are calling for a declaration of emergency in the oil and gas sector to end the threat. Recently, security officers operating across the country reported the recovery of stolen crude oil worth N86.2 billion in August alone.
In addition, a total of 16,000 liters of diesel worth N800/litres (N12.8 million) were reportedly recovered by members of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps at Cross River.
Confirming the situation, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Timipre Sylva, said the country is losing 400,000 barrels of crude per day via oil theft.
He described the development as a “national emergency” and regretted that the country had fallen below OPEC’s daily quota of 1.8 million barrels to 1.4 million barrels due to crude theft. . Sylva said the problem of crude theft cannot be handled by the federal government alone because thefts occur in the communities that host the pipelines. As a result, it has become necessary to involve stakeholders, especially host communities.
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From my investigations, I have seen that the theft of oil is orchestrated by an organized syndicate allegedly supported by security personnel specifically assigned to key export infrastructure and pipelines. A leading industry operator who confided in me said that some soldiers stationed at a key export line in Port Harcourt had openly threatened to kill their new commander who had tried to change the people guarding the asset.
National Chairman of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Executives Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Festus Osifo, said the time has come for the government to declare an emergency in the sector. He told me that because crime has become a well-coordinated robbery with some security officers compromising their responsibilities, a shift toward investing in artificial intelligence would be a major government consideration going forward.
Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Limited, Mr. Mele Kyari, sharing similar data, revealed that the country is losing an average of 200,000 barrels of crude per day to oil thieves, which is translates to 73 million barrels in one year.
Furthermore, at an oil and gas event in Lagos on Thursday, the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Gbenga Komolafe, said the agency had drawn up a roadmap to meet the security challenges in the industry.
Komolafe said the NUPRC has identified and is working to implement areas of collaboration between the government and operators and ensures that operators achieve their full production potential.
As part of this plan, the Commission liaises with the senior echelon of the Nigerian security forces for a robust security framework that ensures the Government Security Forces (GSF) provide security for pipelines and assets.
In addition, a massive public information campaign to educate citizens on the dangers associated with crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, in conjunction with relevant agencies, would be conducted.