The revelation by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the Federal Government presently does not know the exact figure of crude stolen by oil thieves is not only disheartening but calls for urgent actions to stop criminally minded persons in the oil sector from causing more damage to the nation’s economy.
Recall that Chief Operating Officer, Upstream of the NNPC, Roland Ewubare, on March 10, 2020 confounded members of the House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee investigating oil theft from 2005 till date, revealing that the Federal Government does not have the exact figure of crude oil stolen by oil thieves because oil theft is difficult to track.
Ewubare informed the ad hoc committee members that even though oil thieves deliberately engage in stealing products, there are also crude loses arising from obsolete pipelines, old infrastructure and oil facilities resulting to unaccounted crude loses.
He made the disclosure at a three-day investigating hearing while contradicting the figures of crude stolen daily by oil thieves by House of Representatives Speaker, Femi Gbajabimila and Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Rep. Peter Akpatason, who had announced that the amount of crude stolen daily is 200, 000 and 400, 000 barrels respectively.
The NNPC operating officer argued that the major connection to oil theft in the Niger Delta region is the abject neglect of communities where oil is produced.
“We must be honest; we have not provided value to the Niger Delta region, there is deep resentment, sustained degradation and let’s be honest to address the issues,” Ewubare stated.
While we commend Ewubare for his frankness with regards to lack of exact figure of crude stolen by oil thieves in collusion with some officials of the Corporation and security personnel deployed to the oil producing areas, we are appalled that in this day and age, the Federal Government through the NNPC and related agencies has failed to deploy appropriate technology to nip in the bud the pilfering of the nation’s prime revenue earner.
We are of the opinion that now is the time for the Federal Government to put in place needed reforms in the oil sector, including of course adoption of the appropriate technology to end oil theft in the country.
It is a fact that the technology to know the exact amount of crude oil produced in the country exists. The same is true of the technology to know the exact figure of crude oil stolen. So why are these not being deployed knowing the important role the sector plays in Nigeria’s economy? This is the question that NNPC officials, Petroleum ministry officials and officials of related government agencies must answer.
Nigeria is not the only oil producing country in the world. If other countries have put in place measures and technologies to know the exact amount of crude oil they produce, export as well checkmate activities criminal syndicates in siphoning the product, Nigeria will do well to borrow a leaf from such countries.
We are of the opinion that adoption of appropriate technology remains the sure way to both know exact figure of crude oil Nigeria produces as well as quantity stolen by criminal gangs. We also believe that it is time all unpatriotic persons in the NNPC, other government agencies as well as security agencies who are colluding with criminal gangs to perpetuate oil theft are fished out, prosecuted and flushed out of the system.