New Initiatives to Curb Crude Oil Theft

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Alison-Madueke

The federal government has introduced new measures including crude oil finger printing to reduce the spate of crude oil theft in the country

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Jan. 27, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

THE spate of illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalisation and crude oil theft in the country will soon be a thing of the past, if the promises of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the ministry of petroleum resources are anything to go by. NIMASA and the ministry of petroleum resources said that all the agencies of government have vowed to effectively curb the menace this year. Already, the ministry has introduced the crude oil finger printing initiative to check crude oil theft.

Abu Kefas, chairman, NIMASA, said that the government is working assiduously with the Air Force and Navy for air surveillance of the country’s maritime domain and patrol of the territorial waters to curb the illegal activities. “Already, this collaboration is yielding positive results. NIMASA’s performance in 2013 had made the country’s water ways safe for investors. We hope to do more in 2014 bearing in mind that our activities with other agencies will put an end to the menace of crude oil theft in the country,” he said.

Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, said that government effort at addressing the menace of crude oil theft have not been given the needed attention. “With challenges like crude oil theft facing the nation in general and the oil and gas sector in particular, a lot of efforts to rejuvenate the petroleum industry have been introduced and the dividend these efforts have yielded appear to be escaping prominence,” she said.

The minister said that the reserve base of the National Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, has grown to 1.7 billion barrels through strategic divestment initiatives. She maintained that crude oil production including condensate has been consistently maintained above an average of 2.30 million barrels per day despite illegal oil bunkering, crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism. She added that following the federal government’s amnesty programme, Nigeria’s production rose from an average of 1.9 million barrels per day in 2009 to a peak of 2.62 million barrels per day in October 2010.

Patrick Akpoblokemi, NIMASA, DG
Patrick Akpoblokemi, NIMASA, DG

“Sustaining production at these levels would continue to be challenged by increasing pipeline vandalism and crude theft, which intermittently results in production falling below the programmed 2.46 million barrels per day and rebounding following government intervention to stem this menace. However, the government is tackling this problem through enforcement and the Crude Oil Fingerprinting Initiative,” she said.

Apart from this, Ilyasu Abbah, new commander of the Joint Task Force in Niger Delta, has also pledged to work hard to rid the Niger Delta of crude oil thieves, illegal refinery camps and sea pirates. The new JTF commander, who described the Niger Delta as the hub of the nation’s economy, said as a special operational unit of the country’s security forces, it has the mandate of the federal government to protect the oil installations in the region.

The fight against crude oil theft is not limited to the federal government and its security agencies. Some states in the Niger-Delta also joined the fight. Delta and Balyesa states recently joined forces with the Navy to check the menace. Emmanuel Uduaghan, Delta State governor, on January 2, said the federal government had succeeded in bringing down the volume of crude oil being lost to thieves in the country to about 40,000 barrels from 100,000 per day. He said the reduction was as a result of some measures put in place by the government. The governor expressed the belief that the figure would soon be further reduced. “Let me emphasise that the volume of crude oil theft is reducing. Again, I must explain that at a time, oil theft was at its peak; there was a shut-in of about 300,000 barrels of crude oil as a result of damage to two major pipelines; and at that time, between 80,000 and 100,000 barrels were being stolen per day. That was the time we took some measures to ensure that the quantity that is being stolen is reduced.

“Today, I can tell you that the crude oil that is being stolen is reduced to about 40,000 barrels per day. Those two pipelines are now functioning. So, the 300,000 barrels per day that was shut in as a result of the damage to the pipelines have now been opened. Stealing 40,000 barrels per day is still on the high side, but as we go further in putting a lot of measures in place, especially in the area of prosecution, I believe that the quantity that is being stolen will gradually reduce, if possible, come to zero level. Apart from prosecution, we are also talking of technology and monitoring to deal with oil theft,” he said.

To confirm that the measures taking to curb crude oil theft is working, Ali Abdallah, depot manager, Product Pipeline and Marketing Company, PPMC, said Nigeria is winning the war against crude oil theft, oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism. He commended President Goodluck Jonathan and governors of the Niger Delta, as well as security agencies, for their efforts in curbing the menace. According to him, crude oil theft has, over the years, led to a significant drop in revenue accruing to the country from the petroleum sector.

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