Oil Theft Spinning Economy Backwards

<strong>Oil Theft Spinning Economy Backwards</strong>

For quite a while, the nation has been suffused by issues and controversies over oil theft even as it appears the end may not come soon given the divergent interests being generated.

The nation’s oil behemoth, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, said it losses 470,000 bpd of crude oil amounting to $700 million monthly due to oil theft.

NNPCL Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services, NAPMS, Bala Wunti disclosed while speaking during a tour of the facilities of the NNPCL although outsiders have a different figure on the staggering oil theft in the country.

Mr Wunti was quoted as saying that the pipelines particularly those around Bonny terminal cannot function due to the activities of criminals.

He also argued that the number of barrels stolen daily is very huge, adding that about 270 barrels per day that were supposed to be loaded in Bonny are no longer going to be loaded because of theft.

“If you’re producing 30,000 barrels a day, every month, you get 1,940 barrels. So what it means is that you can take it to 270 every four days, calculate it in a month; you will have seven cargos on a million barrels, that’s seven million barrels.

“When you multiply seven million barrels by $100 that is $700 million lost per month, and about 150,000 barrels expected are different; we are not producing due to security challenges”, he said.

Ironically, the NNPCL officials have been fingered by some other government agencies as conniving with the perpetrators of the unprecedented thievery in the sector, in which several billions of barrels of crude oil have been lost.

It is particularly harrowing for our economy which has continued to drip from the callousness of some unscrupulous few who have continued to feed fat at the expense of the nation.

More disturbing is the fact that this unhindered stealing of crude is being perpetuated despite reports that the nation’s quota in the oil cartel- Organisation of Petroleum Producing Countries, OPEC, was not being met. What that translates to is colossal losses to the nation whose dwindling fortunes have continued to plummet on other fronts.

There is a need to stem the tide of the continuous downturn in the nation’s quota deficit which in turn is affecting our revenue and as corollary our economy which depends largely on oil. It would be stating the obvious that any jerk in the oil sector in international circles, has a deleterious effect on the nation’s economy. With the rate at which the production output is nose-diving uncontrollably, it is ominous that the nation’s economy will continue to suffer sliding outcomes, with attendant grounding of several national development programmes.

We are aware that NNPCL now wears a new toga as a commercialised entity and fully operating outside the bureaucratic tentacles of the government. Its new status should confer on it the capacity to take positive responses based on the need for profitability towards enhancing the nation’s revenue profile. It is agreed by many stakeholders in the sector that the new status of the oil giant is not peculiar to Nigeria but it requires some prudence on the part of the officials to guarantee it sustains the expected outcome from the fresh direction.

The NNPCL and other entities handling the nation’s oil business must imbibe alongside its new status the culture of transparency in order to prove that they are working for the public good. Where they handle their businesses in line with international best practices, they will no doubt reap bountifully the results that come with the same.

We urge the new entity to do the utmost in checking these persistent oil thefts that has put us in a bad light as a nation unable to deal with dubious Nigerians and their collaborators who fleece our common till. Indeed, oil theft would not have been viable if there is no connivance between Nigerians and foreign conspirators who are unbothered by the calamitous proportion their acts have plunged us.  

It is imperative as a business entity that we now run, NNPCL, there must be thorough appraisal of the quality of its leadership so as to ensure that square pegs are placed in square holes.  

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