***Confirms $2b has been lost to oil theft since January
The Senate has indicated that it is on same page with the federal government over N48b Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited’s oil pipeline surveillance contract to apprehend oil thieves as it insisted there are both formal and informal approaches to solving the oil theft issue
The Federal Government had awarded multi-billion naira Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited’s oil pipeline surveillance contract to a former militant leader in the Niger Delta and ex-commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo amidst opposition
The N4bn per month contract, which covers the Ijaw-speaking part of Bayelsa State (Southern Ijaw and Ekeremor local government areas), Delta, Ondo, Imo and Rivers states, had attracted a groundswell of opposition from some stakeholders in Bayelsa, Ondo, Imo and Rivers states.
However the chairman Senate ad-hoc Committee that investigated oil lifting, theft and the impact on petroleum production and oil revenues, Senator Albert Bassey Akpan while addressing newen on the report of his committee which he presenred at plenary said the effort of the Government in tackling oil theft was yielding positive results
When asked while he was silent on the involvement of none state actors in addressing the oil theft he said they were in agreement with the action of Government.
He said, If that contract was contracted duly and procured we don’t have any issue with it and if they yield desired outcomes I don’t think there is anything wrong
“We must commend NNPC because as we speak FOCADOS Terminal had been restored 500 000 barrels to our national production and just the day before yesterday the first 87000 barrels per day was received at the Bonny terminals so things are getting better.
“This means that the abridged interventions done recently by government is yielding results if not all the 500 000 barrels would have been stolen and you know the effect in terms of employment.
The committee chairman who could not identify any oil thief in its report said
“I think what is most important is that we must accept collective responsibility for what have befallen this country`s oil and gas industry because the oil theft did not start today, it started since 2004 as in the captured by the report and I believe a stich in time would have saved nine
“Taking the Saudi Arabia example, the country understand and know exactly how much volume is produced and in that country oil pipelines are just on the streets and nobody is tampering with them because the pipelines are in line with the current technology.
“When we we flew the region we could not see the right of way of these pipelines and when you cannot see the right of way how can you ensure effective surveillance
“I must also let you know that these pipelines were installed in the 40s and the 60s so I must tell you that one of the key things that we must embark upon is the replacement of all the pipelines because they have out lived their lifespan we are managing
He said the oil theft has also impacted negatively on the host communities benefits.
“The coming of the PIA had envisaged that all the issues about the host communities benefits and all that would have be addressed but when you see the huge theft and the volume involved it kills the real essence of what the host community trust fund was meant to achieve.
“Based on record the country has lost over $2b since January, how much is our deficit of the country. If we lost $2b that is almost N1.3tr that would have taken care of our fiscal deficit and enhanced the implementation of the capital budget.
“We can not allow criminals to bring the country to its knees. I believe the committee has done an extensive work
Meanwhile, the ad hoc committee, after the investigation, failed to disclosed those behind crude oil theft but instead said all stakeholders must accept collective responsibility for what have befallen the country’s oil and gas industry.
We are not here to apportion much blame, because when you do that you don’t get anything solved. Everybody must take their responsibility, theexecutive must also take responsibility.
Senator Akpan, said apportioning blame would not curb oil theft.
The panel, in its recommendations, said, “Curtailing crude oil theft should be a collective responsibility thereby well-meaning members of the public must be encouraged to report illegal activities and transactions in stolen crude oil that may come to their knowledge from any part of the world.
“Nigeria should seek international financial collaboration to check illegal Letters of Credit used to fund the sale and purchase of Nigeria stolen crude, as such illegal crude sales can only be transacted through the world financial system.”
It also urged the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission to deploy an online real time monitoring system across all upstream oil and gas production platforms to ensure accurate measure of production volume.