The National Economic Council (NEC) last week put the amount of crude oil stolen from Nigeria in the first half of 2019 at 22 million barrels. Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who is the chairman of the ad-hoc committee of the NEC on crude oil theft, prevention and control, gave the alarming figure at a meeting of stakeholders in Abuja.
Obaseki was reported to have painted a dire picture of the oil theft menace, warning that “if nothing was done to curtail the ugly trend, the figure could double by the end of the year”.
According to him, oil theft and pipeline vandalism are beginning to pose a threat to the national economy. Obaseki’s dire warning was preceded by statements from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) wherein it raised the alarm that 106 pipeline points were breached on its pipeline infrastructure in June, representing an astounding increase of 77 per cent from the 60 points vandalised in May 2019.
In a report in The Guardian of last week, Shell alone, with a network of approximately 4,000 kilometres of oil and gas pipelines and flowlines, said the crude oil theft it experienced on its pipeline network resulted in a loss of around 11,000 barrels of oil a day in 2018, which was more than approximately 9,000 barrels per day in 2017.
It should be recalled that 40 per cent of Shell’s total security expenditure totaling about $383million was spent on protecting its staff and installations in the Niger Delta, from 2007 to 2009. Yet, the problem of vandalism has persisted and is growing in scope and sophistication.
The Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, just last week reeled out frightening figures on the menace of pipeline vandalism at the Nigerian International Pipeline Technology and Security Conference in Abuja saying that the corporation had recorded a total of 45,347 pipeline breaks on its downstream network between 2001 and mid-2019.
He lamented that the cost of vandalism, which includes “fatalities, loss of revenue, asset and environmental degradation, possible loss of employment, collateral damage to national image, loss of investor confidence, etc. will obviously affect everyone in the long run”.
No doubt, part of the huge environmental pollution in the Niger Delta is caused by pipeline vandalism which is doing incalculable damage to the ecosystem.