‘Everyone Is Involved In Crude Oil Theft’

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, has decried the country’s high crude oil theft rate.

Kyari, who spoke during the oversight function conducted by the House of Representatives Special Committee on Oil Theft at the NNPCL headquarters in Abuja, on Wednesday (today), revealed that the company documented 9000 infractions on its pipelines within a single year.

According to him, from 2022 to the present, the company has shut down 6,465 illegal refineries.

Kyari noted further that out of the 5,570 illegal connections discovered, 4,876 have been removed from the pipelines.

The NNPCL boss expressed uncertainty regarding whether this was the actual number of illegal connections.

He said, “Some of the scale of the infraction that we see is unbelievable; we are not able to deal with it. When you remove one connection, the next day in the same location, someone will replace it.

“Crude oil theft is almost an end-to-end issue in Nigeria; it is very obvious that everyone is involved.

“In most of these locations, they are less than a hundred meters from the settlement; some are even less than a hundred meters from the local government headquarters.”

Kyari said that notwithstanding the distance, “these evils are being perpetrated unabated, adding that this makes it impossible to guarantee the production that would happen the next day.”

He mentioned that the primary concern was security, and highlighted that the NNPCL took steps to address the problem of pipeline vandalism by uniting all security agencies under one platform, which also included private security firms.

Kyari said: “It is very obvious that despite all the integrity issues with our pipeline and our facilities, we have capacity beyond 2 million barrels per day without doing anything.

“But today, we are struggling to meet the budget estimate of 1.6 million barrels per day. This by no means is related to crude oil theft.

“In 2022, it became so obvious that if something dramatic is not done, we are going to run into trouble. On a specific date, our production came down to as low as 1.1 million barrels per day. And on a particular date, we have gone below a million barrels,” Daily Trust quoted Kyari saying.

On his part, the Chairman of the Special Committee, Rep. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, emphasized the significant difficulties faced in operating oil and gas pipelines in Nigeria.

He highlighted the frequent occurrences of infractions and damages to these pipelines on a weekly basis.

Additionally, he expressed concern over the continuous breaches at oil well heads, flow stations, loading, and export terminals.

Ado-Doguwa also raised an alarm regarding the lack of transparency in regulatory activities at Nigeria’s crude oil export terminals.

He said, “We are compiling the facts and figures. Instances, where approvals are hastily granted to vessels involved in crude theft just to cover official complicity, are reported.

“Incidences of undeclared liftings are noted, and all these and several other infractions, particularly in our offshore marine environment, contribute to the huge volume of crude oil theft being reported.”

In his opinion, there is no denying the fact that Nigeria has been plagued by extensive crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, with a significant portion of these incidents taking place in the Niger Delta region.

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