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How theft crashed Nigeria’s oil production in August

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Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre SylvaNigeria’s crude oil production slumped below one million barrels per day in August 2022, the lowest in at least 30 months, Okechukwu Nnodim reports

Crude oil production in Nigeria dropped again in August 2022, crashing below one million barrels per day to 972,394 bpd, the lowest recorded in years.

The latest figures obtained in Abuja on Thursday from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission indicated that the country’s oil production dropped from 1,083,899 bpd in July to 972,394 bpd in August.

Hence, Nigeria lost about 111,505 barrels of crude oil daily in August, as it was also gathered that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited went to the Federal High Court to canvass special tribunal for the speedy trial of crude oil thieves and pipeline vandals.

Documents obtained by our correspondent showed that while the total crude oil production in July 2022 was 33,600,878 barrels, this slumped to 30,144,212 barrels in August, indicating a loss of 3,456,666 barrels in one month.

Data compiled by countryeconomy.com, an international analytical firm, showed that the average price of Brent, the global benchmark for crude, was $100.5/barrel.

Therefore, by losing 3,456,666 barrels in August, Nigeria lost $364.68m or N155.87bn (at Thursday’s official exchange rate of N427.43/$) in the month under review.

An analysis of the 2020, 2021 and 2022 crude oil and condensate production reports for Nigeria showed that the 972,394 bpd produced in August 2022 was the lowest ever in these years.

All the figures for oil production in 2020 and 2021 through January to July 2022 were above one million barrels per day, but this dropped below the 1mbpd mark in August 2022.

From January, February, March and April 2022, for instance, the country’s crude oil production (without condensates) were 1.39mbpd, 1.26mbpd, 1.24mbpd and 1.22mbpd respectively.

In May, June and July 2022, the figures were 1.02mbpd, 1.16mbpd and 1.08mbpd respectively. But this dropped below 1mbpd in August to 0.97mbpd.

The reason being given daily for the slump in Nigeria’s oil production is oil theft but the stealing of crude has refused to abate.

This made the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria to threaten that it would stop producing oil across the country if the Federal Government failed to nip the menace in the bud.

PENGASSAN commenced rallies in various states on Thursday to protest the continued stealing of crude, as it blamed soldiers and other security agents for conniving with thieves to perpetuate the crime.

The association’s President, Festus Osifo, said the majority of Nigeria’s oil exploration activities on land were currently shut due to massive oil theft in the Niger Delta.

“We’ve had meetings with the security agencies and captains of industry on what could be done to end oil theft, but these meetings seem to be yielding no result,” he stated.

Osifo added, “We now think that engaging behind the four walls of the office is not enough, because our engagements with those in government have not yielded any meaningful result.”

He observed that crude oil price had tended higher than $100/barrel, adding that many oil-producing countries were taking advantage of this, but the reverse was the case with Nigeria as the country had remained broke.

The PENGASSAN president said the Federal Government borrowed over N6tn to finance the country’s 2022 budget, whereas “if we (Nigeria) are able to produce up to 1.9mbpd, we don’t have any need to go borrowing that much.”

Osifo stated that the massive oil theft had affected other sectors of the economy, stressing that manufacturers could hardly borrow money from deposit money banks because the government was currently crowding them out

“Banks now lend money to the government at the expense of private businesses and manufacturers, because the government is the one that can pay. It can print money to settle the debts at the expense of manufacturers,” he stated.

He urged the Federal Government to wake up and address the menace of oil theft in order to avert a total grounding of crude oil production by oil workers nationwide.

In a bid to tackle the concerns, the NNPC tweeted on Thursday that its Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, met with the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Justice John Tosho.

It said the meeting was to seek the support of the judiciary for a special court on oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

The company said, “Earlier today, the GCEO @nnpclimited, Mele Kyari, paid a courtesy call on the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Justice John Tosho.

“During the visit, the GCEO sought the High Court’s support towards the creation of a special court/tribunal to ensure speedy trial of crude oil thieves and pipeline vandals.

“The GCEO, who described these actions as a serious threat to Nigeria’s oil production, revenue generation and by extension energy security, observed that a special court to execute such cases will deter would-be criminals and assure investors of value for their investments.”

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