Crude Oil theft: Reps urge FG to declare state of emergency on activities of vandals

Oredola Adeola

In  a bid to contain the activities of pipeline vandals and crude oil thieves in the Niger-Delta,  the House of Representative Committee  on Petroleum (Upstream), has urged the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the sector.

Hon. Musa Sarkin Adar, Chairman of the Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), made this known during a documentary presentation by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Nigeria’s crude oil production situation, vandalism & oil theft and security measures that have been put in place to restore production and improve revenue.

Hon Adar while commenting on the presentation on crude oil production situation  also charged President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on crude oil theft.

The Committee Chairman commended NNPC for the efforts put in place to curtail what he described as the economic crisis . He however recommended the need for the Federal Government to put in place a monitoring mechanism for the pipelines.

Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director(GMD) of NNPC ltd in his presentation   on the menace of crude oil theft/pipeline vandalism and measures being taken by the FG towards restoring production and improving revenue for the country.

In his address to the House Committee Kyari advocated for the Federal Government to set up special courts dedicated for the prosecution of crude oil thieves and pipeline vandals.

The GMD  also revealed that crude oil thieves have gone sophisticated adding manner at which the activities are carried out show that  crude oil theft is an “elitist business”

He said the drop in Nigeria’s daily crude production led to the  new activities of vandals, saboteurs and organised criminals. He added that this has affected Nigeria’s ability to benefit in periods of high crude prices.

Kyari said,  “I am optimistic that with the measures taken by the FG, we’ll see a significant improvement in our crude oil production. We have a sustainability plan in place to ensure we recoup our crude oil production 100%.”

“There is the need for us to upgrade the advocacy by setting up special courts to try and prosecute crude oil thieves and pipeline vandals. The impact of their activities on our economy is huge and we can’t allow them to bring the country to its knees.”

“We must have a special court to try those behind this business, this is an elite business, it is not done by poor people. Some of the activities are done in a very professional manner. It is a daunting situation, but we’re contending with it”, he said.”

The GMD further stressed that the Corporation is not helpless as it is determined to address the menace. According to him, there is currently a coordinated action by the government  to curtail the situation. Nothing will be left out; every agency of government is involved in this. Ultimately, we will contain the situation.

He noted that Nigeria lost over $1.5 billion worth of crude oil to theft between January and March 2022, amounting to a loss of about 250,000 barrels per day.

He added that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU)have been mandated to track the movement of illicit funds accrued through oil theft to the international market.

Kyari said thieves and vandals have rendered some of NNPC Limited’s terminals useless, it was forced to shut them down due to zero production.

He explained that some arrests have been made, involving “high calibre oil thieves”, but expressed worries over the slow speed of prosecution at the regular courts.

Mr Kyari in his comment on the  hike in the price of Automotive Gas Oil(AGO) popularly called  diesel, he noted that the hike was as a result of the coordinated efforts of security forces arrest owners of artisanal refineries in the Niger-Delta.

According to him, with the level of success recorded in recent times, the Diesel price hike and scarcity would be addressed and normalised in the coming weeks.