Rising Wave Of Oil Theft In Niger Delta | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Rising Wave Of Oil Theft In Niger Delta

Posted: May 20, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Last week, Mr. Francis Olabode Johnson, National President, Petrol and Natural Gas Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), raised the alarm over increasing rate of crude oil theft in Niger Delta and urged the Federal Government to find lasting solution to the problem. This development in the region is worrisome as it portends danger not only to the oil sector but also the country’s economy that has for long depended on the oil and gas sector for revenue.

Indeed a recent release by Oilprice.com indicated that the country has the highest incidents of crude oil theft in the world. The website noted that with as much as 400,000 barrels of crude oil stolen daily in the country, Nigeria is ranked worse than Mexico, Iraq, Russia and Indonesia on the top of five countries most ravaged by oil theft. The website put the country’s losses to oil theft at $1.7billion per month which represents 7.7 per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

We observe with dismay that efforts by successive administrations in the country to effectively tackle the persistent problem of crude oil theft in Niger Delta have failed to achieve the desired result. If the various governments had dealt with the serious socio-economic problem decisively without fear or favour, it would not have reared its ugly head again under the current administration. The rate at which crude oil is brazenly stolen and the daring manner the militants, with the unflinching support of their highly influential sponsors carry out their disloyal and nefarious activities clearly suggest that government is losing the battle against oil thieves and pipeline vandals in Niger Delta.

Venezuela holds the enviable position of being the country with the largest oil reserves in the world. In spite of this, Venezuela and other notable oil producers do not experience the shameful incidence of oil theft and oil pipeline vandalism.

This is why it is saddening that it is only in Nigeria, which ranks as the sixth largest producer of oil in the world that oil theft and pipeline vandalism are regular occurrences.

It is believed in certain quarters that those stealing crude oil and vandalising pipelines could not have done so successfully without connivance of some security operatives. If this is true, it is rather unfortunate.

Crude oil is the only natural resource that currently sustains the country. Those misguided individuals and groups engaging in activities capable of exacerbating the sufferings of Nigerians should be treated as economic saboteurs.

We totally condemn the situation in which greedy criminals have unhindered access to crude oil, which they steal without showing any remorse. We also decry the situation that enables militants blow up oil and gas installations thereby bringing untold hardship to other citizens and the national economy.

It is not only unfair but also a serious criminal offence for militants to steal crude oil and destroy oil and gas pipelines belonging to all the citizens. Nigeria and the citizenry are currently going through difficult times due to the deteriorating economy. This deplorable situation will persist if government does not effectively check the activities of oil thieves and pipeline vandals.

The government should urgently dispatch relevant security agencies to secure the oil installations in the region. Preservation of such vital national assets in order to stop further loss of oil earnings, as well as ensure sustainable production of oil, gas and electricity is a task that must be done quickly by government.

However, we urge the militants to seek peaceful resolution of their grievances as nothing meaningful can be achieved under the present crisis-ridden situation. Also, we wish to remind the restive militants that further instability arising from oil theft and pipeline vandalism would aggravate the level of uncertainty, impoverishment and under-development in Niger Delta.