By Emmanuella Anokam
Some oil and gas experts have underscored the need for global collaboration, technology deployment and host communities engagements to curb oil theft in Nigeria.
The experts spoke on Wednesday at a webinar organised by Nextier Consultants with the theme: “Protecting Petroleum Pipelines: Strategy for Curbing Oil Theft in Nigeria.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the country’s oil output currently dropped to an average of 1.24 million barrels per day (bpd).
Nigeria lost about 3.5 billion dollars to crude oil theft in 2021, which was about 10 per cent of its foreign reserves.
Recent reports indicated that Nigeria losses most of its crude oil production to theft and vandalism.
Speaking on exploring pragmatic solutions to curb crude oil theft, Mr Joe Nwakwue, a petroleum sector specialist, said oil theft had become worst due to the response of the state to the challenges.
Nwakwue listed engagement of the host communities, application of technology (either satellite base or finger prints) and collaboration with global community as strategies to tackle oil theft issues.
He said international collaboration was paramount because there was a global trade in stolen crude oil products, adding that the issues had far reaching complications for both investors and government.
Nwakwue said Nigeria had witnessed overtime increasing amount of point of origin and terminal oil losses, with an average of 1.6 pbd in 2021 and an average of 1.2 pbd in 2022.
“Theft of this skill cannot go on without the complicity of the society at large; the host communities know what is going on and our processes are not transparent enough.
“The assumptions in the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is that it will attract investments, that’s why royalty and tax rates were reduced and on one hand crude theft is sending wrong signal to the market. It should be addressed, otherwise, we will not see gains of the PIA,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr Thomas Kieler, European Union (EU) Adviser on Security, who called for more engagements of the host communities said it was committed to ending the oil theft issues through support programmes and dialogues.
Kieler said the EU had interest in solving Niger-Delta issues and was keeping close eye toward curbing the menace, adding that accountability, adequate manpower and investments were necessary.
Mr Sam Otobueze, former General Manager, Group Security Head, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. (NNPC), said the decline in oil production was a huge concern and needed drastic measures because the sector accounted for 89 per cent of national income earnings.
Otobueze, the Chief Executive Officer of Abokus Integrated Security Ltd., said that the PIA could boost investors confidence if technology was deployed and issues of law enforcement and protection of the pipelines stakeholders addressed.
On his part, Dr Ndu Nwokolo, a social scientist, said there was a need for government to rebuild the trust of the host communities because they engage in such due to the unfair treatment from the state.
“Government should do enough to convince the people, rebuild their trust and allow them to join in protecting the assets,” he noted.
Earlier, the Convener, Mr Charles Achodo, Senior Director, Nextier, said oil theft had posed a threat to the nation, eroded revenue base , undermined national security, destroyed environment and biodiversity and stopped investments.
Achodo decried the fact that it militated against the country’s capacity to meet its quota given by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
He said the key discussion points would be documented to help policymakers and key stakeholders understand the status, gaps, challenges, and ways to mitigate the challenge.
According to the participants, the host communities are complicit, using the state of their communities to their gains.
They noted that collaborations between the community, civil society, International Oil Companies and security agencies were needed.
“If you have ever visited these oil producing communities and see first hand the kind of poverty in these areas, you will understand why the issue is unending,” the participants said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)