Oil Exploration: Don profers solutions to exodus of multinationals

Nigeria lost $2bn to oil theft between January and August this year — Senate

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The Ad-Hoc Committee set up by the Senate for a thorough investigation on oil theft and consequent damage to the nation’s economy said in its report, considered and adopted by the Senate on Tuesday, that Nigeria lost $2 billion, or N1.3 trillion, to oil theft between January and August this year.

The Senate Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) also backed the N48 billion oil pipeline surveillance contract awarded to a former Niger Delta militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, by the Federal Government.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) had awarded the contract to Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited (TSSNL), a company linked to Tompolo, in September.

The N4 billion per month contract, which covers Delta, Ondo, Imo, and Rivers, and some parts of Bayelsa, attracted opposition from some stakeholders.

But Senator Albert Bassey Akpan (PDP, Akwa Ibom), who chairs the Senate committee, said there was nothing wrong with engaging non-state actors to secure oil pipelines in as much as the contract was yielding desired results.

He stated this on Tuesday while briefing reporters shortly after presenting the report of the Senate ad hoc committee to investigate oil lifting, theft, and the impact on petroleum production and oil revenues.

He said oil theft wrecked the country’s oil production capacity and had resulted in the loss of about $2bn this year alone.

The lawmaker said major export facilities, the Bonny and Forcados Terminals, were shut down for over seven months due to pipeline vandalism and oil theft.

He, however, said the recent pipeline surveillance contract to address oil theft was yielding positive results as the country’s oil production capacity has increased.

He said, “There are both formal and informal approaches to solving the issue. If that contract was contracted duly and processed, we don’t have any issue with it and if it yields desired outcomes, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it

“We commend the NNPCL for the action. As we speak, the Forcado terminals have restored 500,000 barrels a day to our national production.

“Just about five days ago, the first 87,000 barrels a day were received at the Bonny terminals. So, things are getting better.

“This means that the abridged intervention done recently by the government has yielded positive results because the production would have been shortened, and you could imagine the effect on investment because investors will hold back if they cannot derive maximum profits from their investments.

“The government has not attracted the desired investment in the oil and gas industry despite the PIA because what is being produced is being stolen.”

Meanwhile, the ad hoc committee, after the investigation, failed to disclose those behind crude oil theft but instead said all stakeholders must accept collective responsibility for what has befallen the country’s oil and gas industry.

Senator Akpan, who also chairs the ad hoc committee, said apportioning blame will not curb oil theft.

In its recommendations, the panel said, “Curtailing crude oil theft should be a collective responsibility. 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 Nigerian 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 an accurate measure of production volume.

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