About 400,000 barrels of crude oil is lost daily to theft, according to data from the federal government.
The Minister of Environment, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, at a town hall meeting on protecting oil and gas infrastructure, organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture on Monday in Abuja, said statistics had supported Nigeria as the most notorious nation in the world for oil theft.
Also at the event, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said about N60 billion was being spent yearly by the federal government to repair vandalised pipelines
He added that between January 2019 and September 2020, 1,161 pipeline points nationwide were vandalised.
The other panellists at the meeting were the Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Mele Kyari.
Abubakar said Mexico, the second-worst affected country, only recorded between 5,000 and 10,000 barrels per day of stolen oil.
The minister also cited a report by Nigeria Natural Resources Charter, which estimated that approximately N4.75 trillion was lost by the country to oil theft between 2015 and 2018.
According to him, the report equated the federal government to having lost approximately three per cent of its revenue to oil theft.
He considered sustained oil pipeline vandalism as one of the major problems that has contributed to environmental degradation in the Niger Delta.
He said the attack on oil facilities had become the innovation that replaced the agitation in the Niger Delta against the perceived poor governance and neglect of the region.
Abubakar said: “The effect of vandalism of oil facilities has not only caused the nation loss of oil revenue, but the money that could have been used to develop education, health, housing and road, among others.
“Companies have also lost huge revenue as a result of the vandalism of the Trans Niger Pipeline, Nembe Creek Trunk Line and Trans Forcados Pipeline.
“Nigeria has lost approximately N4.75 trillion as in the four years between 2015- 2018 according to the estimates by the Nigeria Natural Resources Charter. This equates to the federal government having lost approximately three per cent of its revenue to oil theft.
“The several statistics emphasised that Nigeria is the most notorious country in the world for oil theft lost roughly 400,000 barrels per day dwarfing the second country, Mexico reported only 5,000-10,000 barrels per day. This is a difference of 3,900 per cent.”
He cited data from the National Oil Spillage Reduction Monitor Agency since 2015-2021 as putting the total number of spills recorded in the Niger Delta at 4,919, while the volume of oil spilled into the environment, as a result, was 235,206 barrels.
He proposed the use of unmanned drones, enhancing the role of the joint task force on security operations and prosecution of criminals as a deterrent as measures to enhance pipeline security in the Niger Delta.
Kyari, who represented the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Timipre Sylva, said since 2014, an average of about 38 million barrels of crude oil were deferred annually due to incessant pipeline vandalism, while in 2020 about $1.538 billion in revenue was deferred due to 94 incidents.
He added that from January-May 2021, the NNPC pipeline segments have suffered 203 breaks with system 2B having 80 pipeline breaks and System 2E, a total of 114 pipeline breaks and a total cumulative loss of 39 million litres amounting to N.59 billion.
Kyari stated that pipeline vandals and criminals operating along system 2B axis have stolen about 307,994 million litres of petrol valued at N41.049 billion.
Akpabio raised a poser that if the federal government could be spending about N60 billion per year to fix pipelines, the imputation is that pipeline vandalism has become an industry.
He said though sometimes the youths were blamed for pipeline vandalism, they did not have the facilities to carry out offshore vandalism.
He fingered people who get the contracts for laying of the pipelines for vandalism in order to get part of the contract.
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja