In a stark revelation, the Federal Government unveiled the staggering loss of more than N4.3 trillion in crude oil theft through 7,143 pipeline vandalism cases over the past five years. This disclosure emerged at the Nigeria International Pipeline Technology and Security Conference in Abuja, organized by the Pipeline Professionals Association of Nigeria.
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), a federal agency, classified oil theft and losses as a national emergency with severe implications for oil exploration, economic growth, and the profits of oil companies. Ogbonnaya Orji, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, emphasized the urgent need for regulatory measures, technological advancements, and enhanced security to address this critical issue.
NEITI’s data, presented at the conference, outlined the scale of the crisis, indicating 7,143 cases of pipeline breakages and deliberate vandalism, resulting in crude theft and product losses of 208.639 million barrels valued at $12.74 million, or N4.325 trillion, between 2017 and 2021. Additionally, the reports disclosed that N471.493 billion was spent during the same period on pipeline repairs and maintenance.
Orji underscored the multifaceted nature of oil theft, encompassing pipeline clamping, illegal connections, exploitation of abandoned wellheads, and outright sabotage. He lamented the complicity and conspiracy of silence within communities, stressing that many members of the pipeline association were directly or indirectly involved in facilitating oil theft.
The NEITI boss called for stringent regulations and appropriate sanctions within the pipeline association to curb the involvement of its members. He emphasized that the economy’s growth is imperiled by the prevailing atmosphere of oil theft, pipeline vandalism, and insecurity in oil-producing communities.