Nigeria lost 22.6 million barrels of crude oil worth $1.35bn within the first six month of 2019, according to state governors.
The governors were members of a 13-man ad hoc committee established by the National Economic Council (NEC) to investigate cases of oil theft in Niger Delta.
The report of the committee, which was supported by findings from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), was submitted to NEC at its meeting in Abuja, on Thursday.
Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state and chairman of the committee, told journalists that the losses could be higher in the next two years if adequate measures are not put in place.
“The ad hoc committee discovered that there were huge losses. In fact, the NNPC reported to the committee that 22.6 million barrels of crude oil valued at approximately $1.35bn were lost during the first half of this year. If this situation is not contained, in two years we would have lost $2.7bn,” he said.
“The losses that were recorded in the first half of the year were broken down as follows: the Nembe Creek Trunk-line lost 9.2 million barrels; the Trans-Niger Pipeline lost 8.6 million barrels; the Trans-Focadoes Pipeline lost 3.9 million barrels; the Trans-Escravos pipeline lost 877,000 barrels.”
Obaseki said the slow prosecution of thieves and those who vandalise oil pipelines contributed to the loss.
“The slow and inadequate prosecution of thieves despite numerous arrests and seizures have continued to encourage this menace,” he said.
“The absence of petroleum products filling stations in most of the oil producing communities around the Niger Delta makes them to resort to illegal bunkering and illegal refineries.
“Huge internal and external market of stolen products exists across the West Coast of Africa and also the sub-region.”
He said the committee recommended that the country should restructure the maintenance and ownership of oil pipelines in order to tackle vandalism and theft in the oil sector.
“That we should have a legal framework that will ensure that criminals are duly prosecuted, imprisoned and their assets confiscated,” he said.
“That the NNPC should be encouraged to engage the National Intelligence Agency to identify the markets for stolen petroleum products across the continent.
“That the governors of the oil producing states should set up actions to develop the communities that are most prone and through which these pipelines run with their 13 per cent derivation allocation, as well as implement programmes that will be impactful and make life easy for the people.”
He added that “the Niger Delta Development Commission, which has the mandate to undertake development in this region, should be restructured to perform its role better”.