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Nigeria probes sale of stolen oil to China

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By Abiodun Okunloye

The stolen 48 million crude oil barrels cost Nigeria $2.4 billion in revenue.

Investigation into the illegal sale of crude oil to China involving 48 million stolen barrels has been initiated by Nigerian lawmakers. At the inauguration of the ad hoc committee set up to investigate the deals, which took place on Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria, Nigeria’s Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, revealed this, saying that the committee will look into the situation. It is quite concerning that Nigeria lost $2.4 billion in revenue on the sale of 48 million stolen barrels of oil due to unlawful arrangements with China.

According to him, oil theft costs Nigeria $700 million every month, which is a problem that has a severe effect on the country’s overall budget. With the data that is currently available, Nigeria would suffer a loss of up to $23 billion due to the thefts of crude oil this year. However, a loss of $10 billion due to oil theft was recorded between January and July last year. He made the observation that the oil and gas sector, continued to be the main contributor to Nigeria’s economy, as it was responsible for 80% of the country’s annual budgeted revenue and 95% of foreign exchange income.

The country could not meet its production of goal due to theft.

Gbajabiamila reported that Nigeria’s goal of producing 1.88 million barrels of oil each day in 2022 could not be met because the country’s production had fallen below 1 million barrels. Because of the high rate of theft, he is skeptical if the country would be able to fulfil its projected daily oil production target of 1.69 million barrels in 2023. All this has placed that country in one of the five nations with the lowest revenue-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratios in the world

Similarly, On December 6, 2022, Rtd Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno, Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, warned that the country could lose $23 billion in 2023 due to crude oil theft. His remarks came as the government of Nigeria inaugurated a special investigation team to look into crude oil theft. In addition, Monguno stated that Nigeria is now producing one million barrels of crude oil per day, despite the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) having set a target of two million barrels per day by the year 2022.

Contracted surveillance squad arrested an illegal crude oil cargo.

A huge vessel that was carrying stolen crude oil was apprehended On October 6, 2022, by Tantita Security Services, a recently contracted oil pipeline surveillance squad that is an ex-Niger Delta militia organization which is mandated to undertake security operations in checking the problem. According to the report of the situation, the ex-militia organization seized the vessel along with its seven member crew on the waterways of Escravos as crude oil was being extracted illegally.

At the time of the arrest, it was reported that the vessel with the registration number L85 B9.50 contained approximately 600 to 650 cubic metres of crude oil that had been unlawfully taken and stored in five separate compartments. After the ship’s captain Temple Manasseh admitted that the vessel was carrying a cargo of crude oil, the members of the Nigerian Navy decided to burn the bunkering vessel that was located on the Warri River in South Delta State.

Crude oil thefts have surged in the country despite operative efforts.

Moreover, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) announced in October 2022 that it was working with the various security forces in the country to minimize the amount of theft. However, the stealing of crude oil, on the other hand, has grown widespread, and numerous security officers have been suspected of being involved in illicit transactions. In spite of the high level of security present in the waterways of Nigeria, unauthorized ships and vessels continue to transport oil.

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