President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the federal government has earmarked a whopping sum of $1billion (N163 billion) for the implementation of a comprehensive programme designed to combat crude oil theft, vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure, as well as the apprehension and prosecution of crude oil thieves.
Jonathan, who disclosed this yesterday in The Hague, capital of the Netherlands, at two separate meetings with the prime minister of that country, Mr Mark Rutte, and the chief executive officer of Shell International, Mr Ben van Beurden, said already a technical committee has been set up to look into all aspects of the implementation of the programme.
This, according to him, will include further action to enhance the security of pipelines and other oil industry infrastructure, resolve community-related issues, boost youth empowerment in oil-producing areas and enhance the commitment of oil companies to the discharge of their corporate social responsibilities.
The Nigerian president is in the Netherlands for the 2014 global Nuclear Security Summit said.
Jonathan added that the fresh onslaught against oil theft planned by his administration will require the maximum cooperation of the international community, especially countries like the Netherlands which are major stakeholders in the global oil industry.
"Oil theft is an aspect of global terrorism, which has become a big industry on its own. It has become a major threat to the Nigerian economy and we need to work with all stakeholders to curb it. The thieves must be traced, apprehended and prosecuted," he stated
For his part, the Dutch prime minister assured the president of the commitment of the Netherlands to concerted action against crude oil theft and global terrorism.
Noting that President Jonathan's visit affirmed the strong ties between Nigeria and the Netherlands, Rutte also assured the president of the willingness of the Netherlands to collaborate more with Nigeria on environmental and security issues, particularly in the Niger Delta.
He praised Nigeria's leadership role in promoting regional security in West Africa, and welcomed the signing of an agreement on immigration between both countries as well as the strong trade relations between Nigeria and the Netherlands.
"The president's visit is an open testimony of the strong ties between Nigeria and the Netherlands. Nigeria is Netherlands' main trading partner in Africa and the Netherlands is the second biggest European investor in Nigeria," the Dutch prime minister said.