During the span of one week, precisely between November 18 and 24, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has reported an alarming 226 instances of crude oil theft. This crucial revelation underscores the pressing necessity to reinforce and safeguard Nigerian energy reserves through more stringent measures and enhanced security protocols. On November 28, the official Twitter account of the state-owned oil company broadcasted this information. The NNPC reported that numerous producing states were affected by a prevalent unlawful enterprise. The primary victims of unauthorized connections were Abia and Rivers states, with a total of 39 incidents recorded.
According to data from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Nigeria has suffered a staggering loss of 619.7 million barrels of crude oil, equivalent to a mind-boggling value of $46.16 billion or N16.25 trillion, due to theft and losses sustained between 2009 and 2020. From 2009 to 2018, Nigeria suffered a significant setback of 4.2 billion liters of petroleum products, approximately equal to 140,000 barrels per day. This substantial loss amounted to a staggering value of $1.84 billion for the country’s refineries.
Coordinated efforts yielded positive results.
Despite NNPC’s claim, security agents successfully located and eradicated a total of 77 illicit refineries spread across various states including Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, and Imo. This relentless endeavour was undertaken to effectively suppress unauthorized refining ventures. In the regions of Rivers and Delta states, the issue of pipeline vandalism continued to pose a constant obstacle. The authorities successfully identified 21 instances of such incidents. Additionally, security forces effectively intercepted nine vessels involved in infractions.
Moreover, they managed to apprehend a total of 55 wooden boats that were illegally transporting stolen crude in Delta state. The magnitude of the robbery is further emphasized by the unearthing of 13 automobiles employed in the conveyance of illicit crude oil, including a cleverly camouflaged truck masquerading as animal sustenance, found traversing the Warri-Patani road situated in Ughelli North, Delta state. During this period, a community issue and an act of vandalism were discovered in addition to the identification of five oil spill sites and five illegal storage sites. The states affected by these incidents were Rivers, Delta, Abia, and Bayelsa.
35 culprits engaged in illegal crude theft were captured.
Regardless of the significant obstacles, law enforcement managed to achieve some favourable outcomes. The NNPC reported that, within the specified timeframe, they were able to capture a total of 35 culprits engaged in illegal acts related to crude oil. The NNPC has firmly declared its unwavering stance against crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism. It emphasized its determination to collaborate with industry allies and security forces to effectively combat these illegal acts and protect Nigeria’s energy stability.
Oil theft in Nigeria is an ongoing threat to the country’s economy and security. It has been facilitated by the cooperation between security forces, militia organisations, local population, and company employees. These individuals have been using a wide range of techniques to illegally steal the crude or refined products from the pipelines of multinational companies. For example, Nigerian security forces had foiled over 4,000 attempts of theft from the multinational companies. The incidents included the use of force, sabotage of pipelines and theft of equipment. Oil theft in Nigeria continues to be a problem as it causes significant financial losses to the country. It is also detrimental to the environment, as the illegal spills can have devastating consequences.
Nigerian military has maintained control over trade since 1986.
Since the presidency of Ibrahim Babangida from 1986 to 1993, the Nigerian military has maintained extensive control over the crude oil trade. This was solidified by his appointment of officials to supervise the oil producing sectors. The military personnel and Joint-Task Force members that are involved in the illegal oil trade primarily serve as armed escorts for the stolen petroleum products during large-scale operations and gather the intelligence that is necessary for avoiding government probes in the region.