The Shell Petroleum Development Company has raised the alarm that Nigeria loses $6.1bn (N965bn) annually to oil theft.
It warned that the negative impact of pipeline vandalisation, oil theft and illegal refineries could affect Nigeria’s economy and environment.
The company’s Manager, Government, Community Relations, Mr. Krukrubo Evans; General Manager, Nigeria Content Development, Mr. Igo Weli and Head, Oil Spill Response, Mr. Pat Agbo, spoke in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Friday.
Evans who was represented by Mr. Funkakpo Fufyin, decried that activities of oil thieves had forced the SPDC to close oil production in its Nembe Creek Trunk Line in the state.
He said the shutdown of the facility had led to the loss of 150,000 barrels of oil per day, adding that the development had reduced the revenue accruing to the derivation account.
Prior to the shutdown, he said the SPDC discovered over 90 different punctured points on the 90km pipeline, adding that the company had commenced repairs of the trunk line.
“Our biggest worries are crude oil theft and illegal refineries. They are bringing down the economy. Nigeria loses 150,000 barrels per day amounting to $6.1bn annually to oil theft.
“Illegal refineries are destroying our environment. We are pushing and talking to the government and other stakeholders to do something about it. These crude theft and illegal refineries have to stop,” he said.
He decried the mode of operation of illegal refineries and said operators only took 30 per cent of the crude oil products and “pour the rest into the environment.”
He identified the company’s facilities in Bodo West, Imo River, Nembe Creek Trunk Line, coastlines offshore Niger Delta as the hot spots for illegal bunkering.
He said the SPDC had put measures in place to gather gas and stop flaring it, adding that it had stopped flaring gas in Bayelsa State.
He added that the oil company had taken measures to stop oil theft by monitoring its pipeline through detective equipment and aerial surveillance.
But Weli said the country’s Local Content Development was not operating in its full capacity adding that the youth lacked opportunities to prove their potential.
According to him, effective operation of the content development would solve the problems of unemployment in the country.
He added that the impediments to the Local Content Act should be removed to achieve the aims of the initiative.
Also, experts in the petroleum industry and the economy have warned that continued oil theft in the Niger Delta poses a threat to the country’s economy.
The experts, who reacted to reports of 127,000 barrels per day drop in oil production, urged the Federal Government to equip security forces to stop oil theft.
Former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Chamberlain Oyibo, told SUNDAY PUNCH that the drop in oil production by over 120, 000bpd, was significant and could hurt Nigeria’s economy which largely depends on oil.
He said, “120, 000 barrels of oil per day is a lot of oil. If you look at the economy, it’s enormous for a country that depends majorly on oil income for its development. And oil theft, which is causing this drop, can be combated by the security agencies making sure that it is stopped.
“The stolen oil is either taken offshore and loaded in the ships, or refined locally. I think the Navy and the Air Force can stop oil theft. Another fact is that there is no community in that region that does not know where these so-called illegal refiners operate. Oil theft should be fought collectively, because it is threatening the economy.”
Similarly, an economist, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, said if the drop in the oil production persists it could derail the implementation of the 2013 budget.
He said, “Considering our oil production figures, if this drop persists for a month, it could become a threat to the economy. And if it persists even longer, it could have a serious effect on this year’s budget. That means that oil theft must not be allowed to continue.
“The puzzle is that those who steal the oil are not invisible. Why have they not been stopped? There seems to be collaboration between the oil thieves and those who are supposed to be monitoring them.”
He added that security agents responsible for stopping oil theft should be investigated and punished if found guilty of aiding oil thieves.