The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Andrew Yakubu, Sunday in Enugu, disclosed that the nation loses about $12 billion to crude oil theft annually, noting that if urgent steps were not taken to check the activities of hoodlums, the nation might be faced with a major oil crisis.
Yakubu's warning coincided with yet another alarm raised by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over the criminal breach of its multimillion dollar Nembe Creek trunk by vandals in Bayelsa State.
According to Yakubu, most of the losses were recorded through stolen crude oil and the vast sums of money spent on cleaning up oil spills caused by vandals in the Niger Delta; expenses incurred on extra security arrangements to protect installations; as well as disruption of refining operations, which consumes crude oil locally.
The GMD, who spoke during NNPC Day at the 24th Enugu International Trade Fair, called on Nigerians to shun acts of sabotage, which were capable of threatening the Nigerian economy.
He further called for a concerted effort by all stakeholders, including the federal, state, local governments, communities, traditional rulers and town union leaders, among others, to tackle the menace of vandalism and crude oil theft.
Represented by the Executive Director, Operations, Port Harcourt Refinery and Petrochemical Company, Mr. Vitalis Ugochukwu, Yakubu gave the support of the corporation to the federal government's determination to remove the subsidy on petrol, as according to him, only the fat cats and cabals in the industry were enjoying the subsidy at the expense of majority of poor Nigerians.
"NNPC maintains its support to government to deregulate the oil and gas sectors through the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in order to create a level playing field, institute a regime of transparency and accountability, as well as boost investment in critical areas of the sector," he said.
He also used the opportunity to speak of what led to the collapse of Aba and Enugu NNPC depots, blaming it on the activities of oil vandals, and commended Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State for his commitment in making sure that the Aba depot was restored.
He urged Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State to liaise with his Imo State counterpart, Rochas Okorocha, to find ways of equally ensuring that petroleum product pumped to Enugu are unencumbered.
The President, Enugu Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA), Dr. Theo Okonkwo, in his brief remarks, said NNPC, as the ombudsman of the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy, must strive to make the operations of players in the industry transparent.
"We wish to counsel that appropriate steps should be taken to address the issues raised and remove the cobweb of corruption that has negatively affected the operations of the downstream sector of the oil industry," he said.
Meanwhile, Anglo-Dutch multinational, Shell, has issued an alert over the criminal breaching of its multimillion dollar Nembe Creek Oil Trunk Line (NCTL) by vandals operating along the creeks and waterways of the Niger Delta.
Disclosing this to journalists in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital yesterday, the Media Centre Coordinator of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) on the Niger Delta Operation Pulo Shield, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said 22 breach points were discovered along the Nembe and Cawthorne channels of the trunk line.
The vandals, who used a break-in process called cold cutting to vandalise the trunk line were said to have left the crude oil to flow freely into the creeks, thus polluting the surrounding areas, as they could not plug the areas they had opened on the line.
The JTF spokesman disclosed that the vandalised points were discovered by men of the task force who were on patrol in the area and promptly reported it to the management of Shell.
Nwachukwu said that the discovery contradicted Shell's recent complaint that inadequate policing had given unhindered access to illegal bunkering along the waterways of the region and was responsible for the menace.
Nwachukwu said a ground-trotting exercise report which involved 11 representatives of the various departments in Shell, four senior military officers and 24 operatives from JTF and some SPDC surveillance contractors working in the general area showed that the vandals were still actively operating in the area.
"The ground-trotting exercise covered the NCTL passing through Cawthorne Channels 1 and 2, Global Gas Creek, Adamakiri, Money Ground, Creek 6 and Kalaibiama.
"A total of about 22 breached points which have earlier been identified and reported to SPDC to clamp were however found unattended. Some of the old points were supposed to have been clamped but had not been clamped, were discovered to have some new illegal hose connections made again.
"The connections were all disconnected by cutting the hoses into pieces. No new breached points were discovered during the exercise.
"Also, two wooden barges containing some crude oil were discovered hidden in a creek near Global Gas Plant during the exercise. The barges were set ablaze in situ.
"The combined JTF/SPDC ground-trotting also covered the Nembe axis of the NCTL. The JTF team was led by the Sub-Sect 2 Commander, Lt Col Muktar Adamu, while the SPDC team was led by Mr. Johnson Erewa.
"The exercise was concluded with the resolve by all parties to bridge the communication gap existing between them by working together as partners for the common goal of tackling oil theft.
"SPDC was also once again urged to expedite action on clamping all the identified breached points along the NCTL, while the JTF maintains its robust patrols," he said.