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Oil theft: Senate fingers, army, naval personnel, begins probe

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.As oil producing communities in A/Ibom, Rivers give NNPCL 21 days ultimatum to revoke pipeline surveillance contract

 

 

By Emmanuel Nlewedum, Port Harcourtand  Adekunle Adesuji,Abuja

 

 

The Senate on Tuesday launched probe into the activities of security forces and organised groups employing sophisticated techniques to illicitly steal crude oil in the country.

 

 

Senate decision was sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Ned Nwoko  who pointed out that existing statistical data highlights the grave socio-economic crisis Nigeria is facing due to pipeline vandalism and oil bunkering.

 

Senator Nwoko told the lawmakers  that oil theft has resulted in an astonishing revenue shortfall of N2.3 trillion for Nigeria this year.

 

He further disclosed that certain individuals within the security apparatus collaborated with unscrupulous elements in the oil industry to partake in this unlawful practice, thereby undermining the concerted efforts of the Joint Task Force, comprised of the Nigerian military and various security agencies, aimed at addressing this menace.

 

 

He  said, “The current collaborative efforts involving the Joint Task Force of the Nigerian military, operations like Operation Delta Safe and Operation Dakartada Barawo, along with the contributions of various security entities, state and local governments, and International Oil Companies in the Niger Delta region have yielded positive results.

 

“These efforts have increased oil production, reaching 1.51 million barrels per day in the first quarter of 2023. This figure marks an improvement from the 1.49 million barrels per day recorded in the same quarter of 2022 and is notably higher than the production volume of 1.34 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter of 2022.

 

“Despite the efforts of certain military personnel and security agencies like the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps and Department of State Services in combating oil theft in the Niger Delta region, there are individuals within these institutions who engage in illicit activities.”

 

 

 

The Delta lawmaker further said there had been accusations and counter-accusations of oil bunkering and various other crimes between the military and local militia groups

 

 

Nwoko said,“In 2022, it was reported that Nigeria suffered daily losses of approximately 437,000 barrels of crude oil, amounting to a value of $23 million, due to criminal activities.

 

“In March 2023, Nigeria incurred a substantial loss of 65.7 million barrels of crude oil, valued at $83 per barrel, translating to a staggering revenue loss of N2.3 trillion as a result of oil theft,” he added.

 

 

He, therefore, urged the Senate to carry out a holistic investigation into the activities of the oil thieves and their collaborators in the security forces.

 

Senator Abdulfatai Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, Oyo State, in his contribution, called for punitive measures to combat oil bunkering.

 

He said, “We carry out investigations every year but in the end, nothing has come out of it. We need to review our laws and take punitive measures against oil thieves.”.

 

Similarly, Senator Adams Oshiomhole said oil theft was an organised crime involving the bunkers and the security operatives.

 

After extensive debate on the motion, Senate ordered  its committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream, Downstream, and Gas), host communities, and Niger Delta Affairs to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the activities of security forces, militia groups, local residents, oil company personnel, and any individual or entity suspected of employing advanced methods to illicitly obtain resources from oil facilities.

 

 

Speaking after the conclusion of debate on the motion,, Senate President Godswill Akpabio lamented that  oil theft had impacted negatively on the country’s oil production capacity despite its growing population .

 

The Senate unanimously agreed that Senate should carry out comprehensive investigation  and report back to the Senate in six weeks.

.As oil producing communities in A/Ibom, Rivers give NNPCL 21 days ultimatum to revoke pipeline surveillance contract

 

Meanwhile, Oil bearing communities in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states have issued a 21-day ultimatum to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, to reverse the pipeline surveillance contracts in the state awarded to non indigenes from Delta State.

 

The communities, under the auspices of Association of Rivers and Akwa Ibom Oil Producing States of Niger Delta Region, during a peaceful protest to the NNPCL Zonal office, Moscow Road in Port Harcourt on Tuesday accused the NNPCL of depriving them their rights and benefits in the contract of the project.

 

The protesters displayed different placards bearing inscriptions such as; NNPC Ltd is not fair to Rivers and Akwa Ibom states for awarding pipeline surveillance contract meant for indigenes of Rivers and Akwa Ibom states to three Delta State indigenes.

 

“Mele Kolo Kyari give us our right. NNPCL Management, Rivers and Akwa Ibom oil producing states demand inclusion in the pipeline surveillance contract in our states in Niger Delta. We want equal and fair treatment as granted indigenes of Delta State for pipeline surveillance, give us our contract, etc.

 

Chairman of the association, George God’spower who read the group’s letter submitted to the NNPCL alleged neglect of oil bearing communities in Rivers and Akwa Ibom States despite their contribution to the national economy.

 

He said, “We are here to register the position of the Rivers and Akwa Ibom Oil Producing States host Trans Niger Pipeline, Ebocha-Brass Terminal Pipeline, Obagi, Rumuekpe Bonny Terminal Pipeline, Ogbele- Rumuekpe Bonny Terminal Pipeline, Ubetá SPDC, Rumuji Bonny Terminal Gas Pipeline and other major critical oil and gas facilities too numerous to mention belonging to Exxonmobil, NAOC, NPDC, Total Energies, ADDAX, Monopoly, Oriental Enerqy, NLNG and NDPR of which estimated production is in the category of 21.43% and 31.4% respectively of the total daily production of the eleven Oil Producing States in Niger Delta Region.

 

“We are aware that NNPCL contracted out Pipeline Surveillance Contracts that traverses Rivers and Akwa Ibom States of Niger Delta Region for the past ten months or more to some indigenous contractors from Delta State.

 

“Rivers and Akwa Ibom Oil Producing Communities have been suffering unprecedented consequences of Crude Oil Pollution resulting destruction of farmlands, water ways, swamps, crops, aqua lives, source of natural drinking water, waterborne diseases, air pollution, poverty, untimely death, etc.

 

“This ugly incident is because there has been no prove of the presence of Pipeline Surveillance Contractor in our States, hence, free operation of oil thieves and facility vandalisation in our States.”

 

He said, “In recent time, we were made to understand that NNPCL had awarded and is about to renew the Pipeline Surveillance Contracts to the same three different Delta State Indigenes, we found it very unfair and even bad to mention that what is due indigenes of Rivers and Akwa Ibom Oil Producing States is handed over to people of Delta State.

 

“Meanwhile over the years, we have been working to protect IOCs facilities in our States to safe our environment from consequences of oil pollution as above mentioned. If we had access for necessary financial encouragement, we would have even done better to improve oil.

 

“It is a common knowledge that the President, His Excellency Alhaji Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR desires to grow Nigerian Revente through increase of Oil and Gas Production and to meet OPEC quota. This call for the need for affirmation action against Oil thief and facility vandalization which can only be handled by indigenes of the State with knowledge of the people and terrain.”

 

Speaking further he said, “We are demanding equal and fair treatment as granted indigenes of Delta State for Pipeline Surveillance Contract and protection of Multinational Companies facilities in their states.

 

“We hereby issue a 21 days ultimatum to the Management of NNPCL and Multinational Oil Companies to award Pipeline Surveillance Contract (Local Content Job) to indigenes of Rivers and Akwa Ibom Oil producing states. otherwise we will be constrained to shut down their operations in our States at the expiration of the 21 days Ultimatum from the date hereof.”

 

A stakeholders of the group, Igbuluka Monday who spoke with our Correspondent after they were told that NNPCL has moved to a new location, regretted that, host communities in the two oil bearing states are not being carried along by the NNPCL.

 

He regretted that the NNPCL moved it’s Zonal headquarters from it’s former location to a new place without their host communities knowing.

 

He said, “There is no rapour between the NNPCL and the host communities and its so demoralising, disappointing and downgrading. They don’t care about their host communities and they don’t carry them along.”

 

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