The Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki has disclosed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) reported that the 22.6 million barrels of crude oil valued at approximately $1.35 billion was lost during the first half of the year.

Speaking with journalists after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting on the report of a 13-member ad-hoc committee he chaired to address the impact of vandalization, oil theft, and illegal bunkering on oil production, Obaseki stated that “The adhoc committee discovered that there were huge losses. In fact, the NNPC reported to the committee that the 22.6 million barrels of crude oil valued at approximately $1.35 billion was lost during the first half of this year. And if this situation is not contained in two years, we would have lost in excess of $2.70 billion.

He gave the breakdown of the losses recorded in the first six months of the year as thus: “The Nembe creek trunk-line lost 9.2 million barrel, the Trans-Niger pipeline lost 8.6 million barrel; the Trans-Focadoes Pipeline lost 3.9 million barrel; Trans-Escravos pipeline, we lost 877,000 barrel, ”he said on his report to the NEC.”

According to Obaseki, the ad-hoc committee reported that the governance structure of the pipeline was in a situation whereby no one was held accountable whenever there were breaches and when such losses occurred.

He added that his committee also discovered that the slow and inadequate prosecution of thieves despite numerous arrests and seizures had continued to encourage the menace.

Speaking further, Obaseki said the ad-hoc committee also discovered that the non-availability of petroleum products in most filling stations in the oil-producing communities around the Niger Delta paves way for some people to resort to illegal bunkering and illegal refineries.

Recommendations of the ad-hoc committee according to the Edo state Governor included: the provision of special courts to try offenders and also have a special legal task force to coordinate the prosecution of arrested offenders as well as trained special judges to handle cases of oil theft; 

The move by NNPC to engage with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to identify the markets for stolen petroleum products across the continent; and the involvement of governors in the oil-producing states should be encouraged; to set up actions to develop the communities that were most vulnerable and implement programmes that would make life easier for the people.

Other recommendations read as thus: “That there is a need to restructure the maintenance and ownership of oil pipelines as a way of tackling the perpetrators of crude and other products. That they should emphasis creating employment opportunities for young people and youths in the region.

“That the proposed funding arrangement to be jointly funded by the federal, states and the oil companies to ensure the communities through which these pipeline traverse get some benefits to encourage them to protect these lines.”

The council, however, resolved “that recommendations should be presented to President Buhari who is also the minister of petroleum for the final decision for implementation.

“The chairman of the council also asked the NNPC to make a presentation to council on the state of PMS and other products which are smuggled across the borders,” he added.

Elizabeth Uwandu

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