Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) issues warning on the rising cases of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said oil theft and pipeline vandalism, the cost of which has been put between $6 and $12 billion per annum, had made country reverted to the pre-amnesty period, when oil theft peaked at about 350,000 barrels of per day – higher than the quantity
of oil produced daily by Gabon or Equatorial Guinea.
“On February 24, we raised the alarm that the country’s economy was heading for the rocks, citing the skyrocketing cost of oil production, from $4 per barrel in 2002 to $35 per barrel presently; the massive corruption in the oil sector; the sharp fall in the discovery of new oil and gas reserves due to the low investment in the sector, and the challenge posed by alternative sources of global supply of oil and gas.
“For raising that alarm, we were pilloried by those who act more out of emotion than facts. Today, we say the situation is actually worse than we had thought, exacerbated by pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft which have reached an unsustainable level. Add this to the resurgence of attacks by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), and we are compelled to cry out again,” they stated.
They went on to say the action taken in recent times by two major oil companies, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), was the clearest indication yet of the seriousness of the situation.
“In March, SPDC announced that it will shut down the 150,000bpd Nembe Creek oil pipeline this April due to the urgent need to clear away illegal connections meant to facilitate the theft of crude oil from the pipeline. Also in March, NAOC declared a force majeure regarding crude oil liftings at the Brass terminal and suspended its activities in Bayelsa State, following the intensification of illegal bunkering activities and the vandalism of the 10” Kwale-Akri-Nembe-Brass oil delivery line.
“The shutdown of these two key oil delivery trunk lines by SPDC and NAOC has cut nearly 300,000 barrels per day from already dwindling Nigeria’s oil output, now put at 2.2 million barrels per day, down from 2.75 million barrels per day a year ago, resulting from increased, organised and sophisticated illegal bunkering of oil by criminals operating in the creeks of the Niger Delta.
“To worsen matters, it has been alleged that some bad eggs in the military Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to the region to protect oil personnel and facilities have been accused of complicity in the illegal bunkering activities.
“This is why the federal government must quickly engage key stakeholders in a dialogue with a view to finding ways to stop the criminal acts before it cripples the economy and brings Nigeria down to its knees,” the party said. ACN said it was particularly worrisome that the relative peace witnessed in the Niger Delta following the amnesty programme for oil militants seemed to have waned, going by available statistics.