The Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, yesterday solicited the support of Nigeria’s armed forces to tackle the menace of crude oil theft in the country.
Komolafe made the request when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Lucky Irabor, in his office in Abuja, as part of his strategic engagements with critical stakeholders, a statement by a senior official of the organisation, Mr. Paul Osu, revealed.
The latest report from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) recently stated that Nigeria lost 42.25 million barrels of crude oil valued at $2.77 billion to oil theft in 2019. The report, however, noted that the loss was 11.03 million barrels (21 per cent) lower than that recorded in 2018, which was 53.28 million barrels. It stated that the losses were incurred by companies that conveyed crude volumes through pipelines that were easily compromised by saboteurs.
Speaking during yesterday’s visit, Komolafe told the CDS that the new NUPRC was now responsible for the technical, operational and commercial regulation of the upstream sector, geared towards optimising the benefits of the nation’s hydrocarbon resources.
He reiterated the critical role of the defence chief to the success of upstream investments in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria and appealed for stakeholders’ collaboration and partnership to deal with all security issues affecting the industry.
In his response, Irabor assured Komolafe of the support of the armed forces in the fight against oil thieves, noting that collaboration was of utmost importance to curb the menace.
While expressing concern over the menace, Irabor assured that the armed forces were, “on top of the situation” saying current operational strategies were targeted at eliminating the incidences of such occurrences. He lauded the commission’s chief executive for the engagement strategy, adding that the interaction was significant.
Irabor further requested for detailed proposals that would ensure proper collaboration with all stakeholders, going forward.
In October, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, had raised the alarm that a few Nigerians, he described as the elite, steal as much as 42.25 million barrels of the nation’s crude oil annually. Speaking at a forum organised by the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) in Abuja, he had blamed some unpatriotic Nigerians for the continuous fuel importation and the bad state of the nation’s refineries.
However, he had said the corporation was taking a turn for the better since President Muhammadu Buhari made a decision not to interfere with the workings of the organisation.
“Today, as we all know, Nigeria has an energy deficit. We import all our petroleum products. In the past several years, every attempt to salvage our refineries has ended up in one misfortune or another.
“While oil price is heading high and should have been a bumper harvest for the Nigerian ailing and hydrocarbon-dependent economy, importation of the finished product erodes necessary gains through use of foreign exchange earning and payment of subsidy, which has risen to over N1 trillion in less than eight months that the scheme was introduced through the back door.
“Who steals crude oil? It is not the ordinary man in the village. It’s the elite of society, and it needs all of us to fight them. When we fight them, it is for survival of all of us,” he had argued.