Mele Kyari, the CEO of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (NNPC), has reported that in the past three years alone, the company successfully destroyed over 5,500 illegal refineries and eradicated about 4,500 illegal pipeline connections. Delivering a guest lecture at Obafemi Awolowo University (OOU), Ile-Ife, Osun, Kyari shed light on the primary obstacles to energy security in the West African nation. These challenges include pipeline vandalism and theft of crude oil, along with the rapid growth of the country’s population.
In his speech at the university, Kyari stressed the urgent need for Nigeria to explore alternative energy sources and adopt energy-efficient practices in order to address the current energy challenges. He also pointed out the significance of NNPC’s Command and Control Center in effectively identifying illegal oil facilities. According to the NNPC report, Kyari claimed that the center has been instrumental in aiding security forces by offering real-time surveillance data, resulting in the identification and eradication of more than 5,686 Illegal Refinery sites. Additionally, they have successfully eliminated 4,480 Illegal connections since the year 2021.
Nigerian Army eradicated 233 illegal refineries in 2023.
Recognizing the gravity of vandalism and oil theft, Kyari proposed a strategic move that involves prioritizing the transportation of petroleum products via trucks and storing them in underground tanks at NNPC filling stations across the country. In 2023, the Nigerian Army’s 6 Division in Port Harcourt, during Operation Still Waters 3 in 2023, reportedly eradicated a total of 233 illicit refineries spread across Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states. In the course of their mission, the military managed to confiscate 1,111,900 million liters of illegally processed fuel.
Also, the forces of Operation Delta Safe stumbled upon and destroyed 68 illegal refining sites in Niger Delta in December 2023. A total of 234,000 litres of pilfered crude oil, 160,800 litres of illegal refined automotive gas oil, and 10,800 litres of premium motor spirit were seized during their commendable efforts. 71 cooking ovens and three pump machines were also recovered during the operation. The achievements of these operations clearly showcase the agencies’ dedication to combating the issue of illegal refining in the nation.
Resolving the problem will ensure cost-effective production.
Nigeria’s ongoing battle against oil theft emerges as a pressing issue amidst a scarcity of refinery resources. In an attempt to tackle this problem, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) recently engaged in a meeting with the Nigerian Midstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), aiming to implement more robust measures to guarantee an uninterrupted flow of domestic crude supply. A press release by the NUPRC revealed that the main objective of the meeting was to tackle the current scarcity of feedstocks faced by the modular refineries that are operational within the country’s shore.
During last year’s national oil and gas exhibition, the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), responsible for regulating the industry, called upon the government to tackle the rampant issue of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta. They stressed the importance of resolving this problem to ensure the cost-effective production of hydrocarbons and increase profitability within the sector. NCDMB said in a press release in May that numerous indigenous operators faced a year-long obstacle in transporting their crude oil through pipelines. As a result, they have been compelled to pursue expensive alternative methods.
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Amidst all this, Equinor ASA has decided to withdraw from the country last year, and Shell recently declared its intention to divest its onshore subsidiary in Nigeria. Equinor stated in a November 2023 announcement that this decision aligns with their objective of enhancing their global oil and gas portfolio while concentrating on key regions. On the other hand, Shell declared on January 16, 2024, that their decision to divest from Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. signifies a significant achievement, as it falls in line with their previous declaration to withdraw from onshore oil production in the Niger Delta.