17 March 2013, Yenagoa – A group, Shareholders Alliance for Corporate Accountability, SACA, has urged the Federal Government to urgently halt the rising wave of crude oil theft and operations of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta area.
Rev. Fr. Kevin O’Hara, Executive Director of the non-governmental organisation, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Yenagoa.
Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, the largest crude producer in Nigeria, on March 4 raised an alarm on the increasing incidence of crude oil theft.
The company’s Managing Director, Mr Mutiu Sumonu, warned that unless efforts were urgently made to curb the illicit oil trade, the company might be forced to shut its Nembe Oil Trunk line.
He said that Nigeria was losing more than 60,000 barrels of crude daily to theft and illegal refineries.
O’Hara stressed that oil theft was a complex problem, which posed a serious challenge to the economy of the nation.
He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to collaborate with the international community in efforts to tackle the problem.
“Obviously, oil theft is a huge issue. It is a very complex one because it is believed to involve people in high positions; unless the Federal Government takes the fight against it seriously, it will continue.
“This situation is really bad but we are hoping and praying that it does not continue. It needs to be addressed along with illegal refining of stolen oil,” he said.
O’Hara, however, stressed that youth unemployment in the Niger Delta area had been a big challenge, urging the government to exploit the opportunities existing in the agricultural and small industrial sector to create jobs.