Abimbola Adeluyi, Abuja
Edo State Governor Mr Godwin Obaseki has charged the Federal Government and relevant stakeholders in the energy sector to collaboratively square up against crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, saying that the country has lost $1.3 billion to the perennial menace.
The Governor gave the charge in Abuja on Tuesday at a policy dialogue organised by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
According to him, the issue of oil theft in Nigeria remains a beast that must be crushed due to the devastating economic and environmental consequences on the country.
Governor Obaseki said that crude oil vandalism, oil theft and illegal bunkering have been of great concern to the government, particularly the National Economic Council (NEC), adding that the Council has offered recommendations which are being considered.
“In terms of reference, we were first asked to look at how production can be sustained and restored in the three major lines: the Trans-Niger pipelines, the Nembe creek trunkline and the Trans Forcados pipeline,” the Governor explained.
“We are working with all the players in the industry, some of whom are here.
“For the first half of this year, we lost 22.6 billion barrels of crude oil with an estimated cost of about $1.3 billion. The largest losses came from lines that were operated by the same companies. We also noticed that the lines that were sourced, the third parties recorded the most losses.
“We should think of a proper governance structure for our strategic pipelines. They are strategic national assets. Yes, they are owned by individuals but they carry products that sustain the life of this country. So, we cannot deal with them like properties that are privately owned.
“To contain this crisis at this point in time we recommended that we should set up the proper governance structure which entails proper security to ensure further accountability.
“If it is possible, the Federal Government should reconsider repossessing these lines for a short while until we understand what’s going on. So, the government should be in charge with and work with the private owners to put proper security measures for these lines,” Obaseki recommended.