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We are unable to deal with scale of crude oil theft, says Mele Kyari

We are unable to deal with scale of crude oil theft, says Mele Kyari
March 14
10:53 2024

Mele Kyari, group chief executive officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, says the national oil firm is unable to deal with the scale of crude oil theft in Nigeria.

Kyari spoke on Wednesday when the house of representatives‘ special committee on oil theft visited the NNPC’s headquarters in Abuja for an oversight function, warning that the country would be in trouble if the menace persists.

In December 2023, Kyari told the senate committee on appropriations that there are 4,800 illegal connections on over 5,000 kilometres of oil pipelines across the country.

Addressing lawmakers on Wednesday, Kyari said the level of illegal connections on oil pipelines in the country is “unbelievable”.

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He said 4,876 out of 5,570 illegal connections on oil pipelines have been removed, adding that “crude oil theft is almost an end-to-end issue” in Nigeria.

“We have also removed 4,876 illegal connections to a pipeline out of 5,570 that we have discovered”, Kyari said.

“Some of the scale of the infractions that we see is unbelievable. We are not able to deal with it. When you remove one connection, the next day in the same location, someone will replace it.

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“In most of these locations, they are less than a hundred metres from settlement. Some are even less than a hundred meters from the local government headquarters.”

Kyari said oil theft has made it nearly impossible to predict the daily output of crude oil.

“These evils are being perpetrated unabated, that this makes it impossible to guarantee the production that would happen the next day,” the NNPC boss said.

“But today, we are struggling to meet the budget estimate of 1.6 million barrels per day. This by no means is related to crude oil theft.

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“In 2022, it became so obvious that if something dramatic is not done, we are going to run into trouble.

“On a specific date, our production came down to as low as 1.1 million barrels per day. And on a particular date, we have gone below a million barrels.”

Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, chairman of the committee, said the illegal connections are not only on oil pipelines.

“It is saddening to note that these infractions do not stop with the pipelines, daily breaches are also recorded at the oil well heads, flow stations, loading, and export terminals, among others”, he said.

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“We are compiling the facts and figures.”

According to Ado-Doguwa, instances, where approvals are hastily granted to vessels involved in crude theft just to cover official complicity, are reported.

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The federal government has invested billions of naira in the security of its oil assets and is currently engaging the services of Tantita Security Services Limited — a private security outfit run by the ex-militant warlord, Government Ekpemupolo — to protect its pipeline network at the cost of N48 billion annually.

The NNPC has also entered into several partnerships with security agencies to curb oil theft.

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