28 June 2012, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – THE Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has again raised alarm over the activities of oil thieves in Nigeria, saying the country was losing $5billion annually to oil theft.
Speaking on Tuesday during a public hearing on the upsurge of illegal oil bunkering activities in Nigeria’s coastal region organised by the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and Navy. in Abuja, SPDC’s managing director, Mutiu Sumonu, said Nigeria is now losing approximately 150,000 barrels of oil to illegal oil bunkering daily.
His company, he said, lost about 100 barrels daily between 2003 and 2004.
His estimate may be very conservative going by another estimate of oil theft given by finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who said monthly loss is in the region of $1.2 billion, which translates to $14 billion yearly.
Okonjo in a report by Financial Times said daily loss to oil thieves is 400,000 barrels, about a quarter of Nigeria’s daily production.
Sunmonu said the problem of oil theft can be tackled if there is a political will to fight it by all the stakeholders involved in the process. “Every tier of government must be involved in the fight against illegal oil bunkering,” he said.
According to him, illegal oil bunkering has become a highly syndicated operation that involved oil company workers.
Aminu Tambuwal, the Speaker of the House of Representatives assured that the National Assembly would support the committee in its bid to end illegal oil bunkering.
The Speaker who noted that activities of oil thieves constituted threats to the nation’s security and environment said the National Assembly is ready to respond to the enormous challenge of checking illegal bunkering.
Ade Abolurin, Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), in his contribution, said his men were not properly equipped to tackle the challenge of oil bunkering. He however noted over 300 Nigerians and 15 Ghanaians have been arrested and prosecuted by his men for illegal oil bunkering. The NSCDC boss said government should implement laws that relates to checking illegal oil bunkering.