To stem the trend, the government announced, Friday, the setting up of what it described as a “very aggressive and robust task force,” as part of strategies to stem the rapidly escalating theft of the country’s crude and to secure the critical assets in the oil and gas sector.
The decision to set up the task force was taken at a crucial meeting in Lagos, convened by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to discuss how to tackle the issue.
The meeting had in attendance all the service chiefs among them the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Azubike Ihejirika; Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Oluseyi Petirin; representatives of the Chief of Naval Staff; Chief of Air Staff and the Inspector-General of Police as well as Chief Executives of International Oil Companies (IOCs), among others.
Addressing journalists in company with the service chiefs, the Petroleum minister said the creation of the task force became necessary in view of the economic and environmental losses crude theft was causing the nation.
She declined to reveal other strategies being put in place by the government to stem the tide, but said the task force, which comprises representatives of multinational oil companies, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the armed forces would work aggressively to address the problem in a very robust and speedy manner.
She said the task force would also ensure that all those arrested for crude oil theft are properly investigated and prosecuted.
In terms of losses, the minister said, “the country is losing approximately 180,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily at this time. Of course, to the nation, if you look at the international cost for a barrel, it will be estimated at $7billion yearly.”