Stakeholders in the Nigerian oil and gas industry including international oil companies have raised alarm over continued crude oil theft and have called for an all-out-war against the perpetrators of such crimes.
The Managing Director of Shell, Mutiu Sunmonu; Chairman of Exxon Mobil in Nigeria, Mark Ward; and Executive Director of Exploration and Production at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Abiye Membere said there is need to go beyond the 'small thieves' and arrest their sponsors.
Speaking at the Nigerian Oil and Gas Summit in Abuja yesterday, the panelists agreed that the over 50, 000 barrels of crude oil theft per day was threatening the foundation of the oil and gas industry which requires an integrated solution approach to fix.
Sunmonu said oil thieves in the country are not limited to the few boys often arrested in the creeks. He said given the sophistication, the authorities need to trace where the monies made by the pipeline vandals go to, with a view to unraveling the big people behind the crimes. He said: "The boys arrested stealing crude (oil) are not the ones behind it. We need to trace where the money is going to. It is a war against principalities and powers. You must leave the poor boys doing it to eke a living and trace the big fishes behind it."
Sunmonu noted that due to the increasing case of pipeline vandalism, the new pipes being laid by the company was at a depth of 4.5 meters (13.5 feet). He said the general public must see the crude oil theft as a crime against humanity and therefore should express angst and condemn it.
The Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Addax Petroleum, Cornelis Zegelaar noted that the revenue lost to crude theft was enough to build two new oil fields.
Also speaking, Membere said a multi dimensional approach is being taken to address the oil theft challenges. Among the approaches include the use of technology through the deployment of fibre optics along the route of the pipes for real time online monitoring as well as physical monitoring.