The governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki has painted a sordid picture of how Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) lost a total of 22.64 million barrel of crude oil valued at US Dollar 1.35 billion to oil thieves in Niger Delta area of the country.
He gave the rundown of the losses, at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting today, September 19, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja as 9.2 million barrels at Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL); 8.6 million barrels at Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP); 3.96 million barrels at Trans and 877,000 barrels at Trans Escravos Pipeline (TSEP). Forcados Pipeline (TFP)
He attributed the thefts to the absence of governance structure for the pipeline such that no one is held accountable whenever there is a breach on the lines, slow and inadequate prosecution of oil thieves, despite numerous arrests and seizures, absence of petroleum products filling stations in most of its oil producing Communities that make them resort to illegal bunkering and refineries.
He also identified huge internal and external markets of stolen crude oil which include Ghana as well as some neighboring countries as part of the factors facilitating and encouraging theft of the crude oil.
The governor, who headed a 13 member Ad-Hoc Committee, recommended to the Council the need to restructure the maintenance of all pipelines as a way of tackling the perpetrators of oil theft and creating a legal framework that will ensure every criminal is duly prosecuted, imprisoned and all assets confiscated.
The committee also recommended the setting up of Special Courts to try offenders, set-up of Legal Task Force to coordinate the prosecution of arrested offenders as well as train special judges to handle cases of oil theft and that NNPC should engage the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to identify markets for the stolen products.
“Governors of the oil producing states to step up actions to develop their communities with their 13% derivation allocation as well as implement programmes that will be impactful to make life easy for the people. They should also create employment opportunities for the youths in these regions.
“Propose a funding arrangement to be jointly funded by the Federal, State Governments and oil companies.”
NEC then resolved that the committee’s recommendations would be presented to the President who is also the Minister of Petroleum for the final decision and implementation even as Vice President Yemi Osnibajo, who chaired the Council was mandated to asked NNPC to make a presentation to the Council on the state of PMS and smuggling across the borders.