From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, Mallam Mele Kyari, yesterday, disclosed that the country loses about $2 billion monthly to crude oil pipeline vandals.
He regretted that their activities in the petroleum sector have come with attendant effects on the environmental.
He stated this in Asaba, Delta State, when he visited Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, as part of the Federal Government’s delegation on anti-oil theft led by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva. Kyari said the country hardly met its OPEC production quantum of 1.99 million barrels per day, with the current production level of 1.4 million barrels per day being threatened by activities of vandals.
“This has done extensive damage to the environment, and losing $1.9 billion every month is colossal, considering the nature of the global economy at the moment.” He reinstated that the team needed the support and buy-in of Delta State Government “because stopping this oil theft requires the concerted efforts of the federal, state governments, oil companies and security agencies.”
Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva told the governor that the team was in Asaba to seek the support and buy-in of the state government on measures to be adopted to check oil-theft, saying “as a country we cannot sustain this kind of theft perpetually.”
He said oil theft had become a national emergency, especially as the nation had not been able to meet its OPEC production quota.
“Our production has dropped drastically to very unsustainable levels. So, we have decided to take the bull by the horn by putting some structures in place and those structures cannot function effectively without the collaboration of the state government,” he said. Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, who is coordinating the security intervention against oil theft, disclosed that in the last five months, security agencies had been dealing with issues of illegal refineries and oil bunkering across the Niger Delta.
The CDS also advocated the engagement of indigenes and host communities in the fight against criminals.
Okowa, however, advocated a review of surveillance contracts on oil facilities to involve host communities in order to check the high rate of oil theft in the country.
He said reviewing oil surveillance contracts based on performance of the contractors and engagement of host communities would ensure effectiveness in securing nation’s oil and gas assets.
He admitted that the challenge of oil-theft was huge, given the level it had assumed, but expressed happiness with the steps taken by authorities to curb the menace. The governor pointed out that it was often difficult to secure the facilities, especially when persons given the contracts did not have adequate information on the environment, nor have the buy-in of host communities.