As Nigeria’s federal government continues to search for a lasting solution to the bleeding in the oil sector, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) on Wednesday revealed that in the period spanning between 2009 and 2020, Nigeria lost as much as 619.7 million barrels of crude oil valued at N16.25 trillion to oil theft.
In a statement signed by the organisation’s Head, Communications and Advocacy, Obiageli Onuorah in Abuja, NEITI also welcomed the decision of the federal government to set up a special investigative panel on oil theft and losses in Nigeria.
To underscore the seriousness of the oil theft investigation panel, the Dr. Ogbonnaya Orji-led NEITI disclosed that from its industry reports, Nigeria had lost 619.7 million barrels of crude oil valued at $46.16 billion or N16.25 trillion in 12 years from 2009 to 2020.
The losses were from theft and sabotage, based on information and data provided by an average of eight companies covered by NEITI process over the years, the statement added.
A breakdown of the losses, it stated, showed that in 2009 when NEITI commenced reporting of crude oil theft, Nigeria lost 69.49 million barrels valued at $4.31 billion.
It added that the figures for 2010, 2011 and 2012 revealed that 28.31 million, 38.61 million and 51.58 million barrels which were valued at $2.29 billion, $4.39 billion and $5.82 billion were lost respectively.
According to NEITI, its oil and gas industry reports for 2013 to 2020, also showed that the losses to crude oil theft did not abate as 78.30 million barrels valued at $8.55 billion were lost in 2013 alone.
In 2014 and 2015, the extractive initiative noted that Nigeria witnessed combined losses of 67.29 million barrels valued at $5.57billion, while in 2016, the country recorded the highest losses of 101.05 million barrels that were valued at $4.42 billion.
Between 2017 & 2020, the NEITI reports indicated losses of 36.46 million barrels ($1.99 billion) in 2017, 53.281 ($3.837 billion) in 2018, 42.248 million barrels ($2.772 billion) in 2019 and 53.056million barrels ($2.21 billion) in 2020.
“The combined value of these losses is 619.7 million barrels amounting to $46.16 billion over a 12-year period,” NEITI added.
It described the decision to set up the panel as bold, courageous and timely, given the ‘havoc’ oil theft has wrecked in oil production and the country’s revenue generation.
NEITI lamented that it was regrettable that at a time Nigeria’s economy is largely dependent on oil revenues, some Nigerians would choose to collude with foreign nationals to steal and sabotage the main sources of revenue for the federation.
The agency particularly expressed delight over the new collaboration between Offices of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and that of the National Security Adviser (NSA) in coordinating the investigations and its wisdom to appoint NEITI in this special panel.
NEITI said it would seek technical support where necessary from 57 member countries of the global Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to help tackle the international dimension of oil theft in the work of the investigative panel.
NEITI further disclosed that after a careful review of the terms of reference of the panel, it found the terms of reference of the committee, comprehensive, incisive, and attainable.
The panel was among other things required to establish the ramifications of crude oil theft/losses in Nigeria; ascertain the causative factors immediate and remote of crude oil theft/ losses in the country; with the widest possible amplitude and identify persons/entities whether public, private or foreign, involved in the criminal enterprise.
NEITI gave the assurances that working with other members of the panel, the agency would rely more on its multi-stakeholders to support the work of the committee.
Also the organisation renewed its call to the federal government to establish a similar special investigation panel on the Glencore bribery scandal which has seen some Nigerian government officials in the oil and gas industry alleged to have received the bribe payments to facilitate and secure crude oil contracts and other business advantages for Glencore.
Glencore is one of Nigeria’s oil traders that were convicted in the United States and Britain for paying bribes in various sums to some government officials in Nigeria, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Brazil, and Venezuela over a period of 10 years.
The global public disclosure about Glencore was made by the United States Department of Justice which later convicted Glencore of the said crime. Glencore has pleaded guilty to the charges and agreed to pay over $1.1 billion to the United States Government.
The NEITI statement noted that following its request to the federal government to launch investigations into the Glencore bribery incident, assurances were received that the matter was under investigation.
“NEITI strongly believes that the special investigative panel on Glencore bribery scandal will fast-track the investigations towards apprehending the culprits in view of the huge implications to the country’s investment drive and global image,” the statement added.
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja