16 August 2013, Lagos – It has been the cost of restoring the Niger Delta environment to its original state before oil theft left it devastated at over $1trillion.
The Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta and Chairman, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, who said this, regretted that the region had witnessed phenomenal environmental degradation, not just from oil exploration, but from illegal bunkering and oil theft.
Speaking during a conference on oil theft and illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta, organised by the Office of the Special Adviser to the President on the Niger Delta in Lagos on Tuesday, Kuku lamented that concern had been on the estimate of oil losses, pipeline repairs and their attendant economic challenges, but no one had actually given a thought to the fundamental damages to the environment, which was threatening the traditional livelihood of the people.
He said, “While several estimates have been made regarding the cost to the national economy in lost revenue and pipeline repairs, no one has calculated the cost to the environment and the livelihood of the people of the Niger Delta.
“No one has calculated the cost of restoring the environment; but extrapolating from the cost of restoring aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP Gulf Coast spill of 2010, the cost to the Niger Delta will amount to more than $1tn.”
Kuku said oil theft posed significant pressure on the country’s revenues and explained that its “impact on the communities of the Niger Delta, on our environment, our health and our livelihood is even more serious.”
He pointed out that fishing and farming were no longer possible because of the damage to the environment on which the people depended for their livelihood.
The Presidential aide also dismissed the current figure being published as the amount of oil stolen in the country, saying the estimated 400,000 barrels of oil per day loss in the industry might not have captured the actual loss.
“Most of the commentary and literature on oil theft lay emphasis on the cost to the Nigerian economy, and indeed this cost is huge. By some estimates, at the peak of our losses, we lost almost 400,000 barrels per day to oil theft and pipeline vandalism,” he said.
– Dayo Oketola, The Punch