President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday deployed the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari as well as the Chief of Staff of the Defence, General Lucky Irabor to assess the level of oil theft in the Niger Delta.
The development followed public outrage over Nigeria’s massive theft of crude oil, which had hampered the country’s ability to meet the quota allocated by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had on Monday lamented the unprecedented rate of oil thefts recorded in recent times and its debilitating effect on government revenue and rising reserves.
The governor’s comment came a day after THISDAY reported similar concerns expressed by co-founder and former CEO of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr Austin Avuru, who called for a state of emergency in the oil sector and Nigerian gas.
He revealed that up to 80% of the oil pumped in the country, especially in the East, is stolen.
Avuru spoke days after a businessman and Chairman of Heirs Holdings, Mr. Tony Elumelu, also lamented the deteriorating state of the industry, pointing out that around 95% of oil production does not arrive at the terminal.
Earlier, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO), operator of the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) pipeline, threatened to vacate the facility due to relentless vandalism, ongoing sabotage and outright theft. and simple.
However, during the group’s first stops in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Delta and Bayelsa States yesterday, Sylva, who described the perpetrators as criminals, said the deployment of key stakeholders by Buhari had to stress the importance of the situation.
“We came because of the activities of these criminals. The government and the country can no longer afford these activities and that is why we are here. I don’t want to say much, but we will now, the CDS, myself and the operating companies and the GMD, we will fly over and see for ourselves what is happening.
“And then I can assure you that in the next few days the operations will start in earnest and we are very sure that we will be victorious in a few months.
“The security issue has been brought to the attention of the President and Mr. President has taken it upon himself, along with CDS and GMD, to ensure that this issue is addressed once and for all,” said The Minister.
According to Sylva, there are three elements to the solution to the existing problem, including communities, because in her words, “those people involved in the illegal activities are not ghosts”.
Sylva argued that since the perpetrators are from the communities, the host communities must be involved in finding a lasting solution to the threat.
“Security also needs to be involved because you are the law enforcement arm of government and of course we too as government people need to be involved and then the third arm is the operating companies.
“All the elements are complete now. We are here as the government, the operating companies are here and of course we are going to the communities. So, I believe that finally this issue will be resolved.
“We are determined to stop him because we can ill afford the continued insecurity in the oil industry. So I want everyone to know that these criminals have their days numbered.
“We are here to make sure that this issue is finally resolved and to reclaim this industry for the country because this country has lost so much business from these criminals and the government and the country can no longer afford these businesses and that is why we are here,” he argued.
In his comments, Kyari said the government has concluded plans to address oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism and illegal activities threatening the country’s oil sector.
Kyari noted that the government would spare no effort to stop the growing wave of oil theft and environmental destruction that had cost the country foreign exchange earnings.
The team that visited various sites where illegal oil refineries were taking place, he said, was on a mission to ensure that illegal oil refining and crude oil theft were stopped.
In Ibaa, which is in the Emeoha local government of the state, Kyari and the team ordered the destruction of several illegal sites.
Speaking to Ibaa reporters, Kyari said the country could no longer afford to see its oil exploited and stolen illegally. He stressed that the adopted strategy will finally stop the situation.
He commended the security team in its efforts to stop depriving the country of resources essential for economic development.
The NNPC GMD warned that stakeholders are not being left behind in the search for a lasting solution, adding that the Navy was also aware of the situation, assuring that the task of destroying the illegal oil refinery will not go away. won’t stop until the problem is solved.