The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has stated that the military should be held accountable for the country’s high rate of crude oil theft.
This was revealed on Wednesday during the Senate’s investigation into oil lifting and theft, which was chaired by Senator Akpan Bassey.
According to Festus Osifo, National President of PENGASSAN, oil theft is a collaborative crime between military personnel assigned to protect oil installations and locals running illegal refineries.
He claimed that the military and other security agencies were assisting and abetting criminals in stealing the crude with the active cooperation of the nation’s petroleum regulatory agencies.
As a result, Osifo challenged regulatory agencies and various security organizations to be aware of their responsibilities in order to solve the problems.
He specifically claimed that men from the Amphibious Brigade in Port Harcourt and their Navy counterparts, in collusion with superior officers at various times, joined the locals in the theft.
“One of the greatest problems we have, which nobody has highlighted,” Osifo claimed, “is that our security forces are complicit in the crime.” This is without a doubt. We have information from Army and Navy officers that they pay their superiors to be posted to certain areas in the Niger Delta.
“I can confirm to this committee that men in the Nigerian Army and Navy pay their superiors to be posted to the Niger Delta.” Despite the removal of the former Commander of the Amphibious Brigade in Port Harcourt, many of the men in the command resisted being posted out due to the ‘lucrativeness’ of their operational areas.
“I believe the people who have a solution to this problem are not even present.” They will be the ones you invite behind the camera.”
Mr Jide Adeola, Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services and Administration at the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, also stated that approximately 600,000 barrels of crude oil are stolen each day.
“As of today, Nigeria produces 1.23 million barrels of crude oil per day as opposed to 1.8 million barrels targeted, resulting in a total revenue loss of $2.1 billion or N877 billion,” he said.
Concerned about the submissions, the Committee’s Chairman, Akpan Bassey, stated that he had never seen “economic sabotage of this magnitude, and it must be stopped.”
“The required political will will undoubtedly be achieved through the use of legislative intervention after meeting with other critical stakeholders such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, the Military, and so on,” he said.
The Senate also expressed concern that the country was losing over 900,000 barrels per day to oil thieves, warning that the massive oil theft would bring the economy to its knees.
According to Bassey, if the ongoing theft is not immediately stopped, it will stymie the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, which was passed into law by the National Assembly last year.
The senator expressed shock over the massive loss of national oil revenues due to oil theft and sabotage during an investigative hearing on the committee’s experience during its oversight visit to major platforms in the Niger Delta.
According to Bassey, the committee discovered that pipelines carrying crude oil could not be identified because they were covered with no right of way, making monitoring these pipelines difficult.
He told stakeholders that the country’s oil revenue shortfall was caused not only by oil theft, but also by the inability to have evacuation access, effective metering and monitoring by operators, and the unwillingness of security agencies to stop the incidents.
He bemoaned the fact that the Bonny Terminal, which had previously produced 60,000 barrels per day, had not produced a single barrel in the previous seven months.
Speaking at the event, Senate President Senator Ahmad Lawan, who had declared the investigative hearing open, stated that the Senate believed that oil theft had a negative impact on the country’s oil production and revenues, hence its decision to form the committee to develop a workable template to address the situation.
Lawan, who was present, also charged stakeholders with devising a strategy to address this national challenge.
“It is regrettable that the criminals are committing the unfortunate crime with the active complicity of stakeholders, including security personnel,” he said.
“The Senate will go to any length to expose the criminals behind the crime, which is why we formed an ad hoc committee to investigate the thieves and devise workable solutions to end the menace by December of this year.”
Senator Kabir Kaya of Kano South senatorial district, a member of the committee, noted that while Nigeria’s OPEC quota was 1.8 million BPD, the country currently produces 1,2 million BPD, resulting in a 600,000 BPD shortfall. He challenged the stakeholders and the operators to solve the problem.