By Obas Esiedesa, Abuja

The Federal Government has said high-level cases of oil theft have become a threat to the country’s corporate and economic existence, with the industry now thinking of transporting crude oil from fields to export terminals by trucks.

This is as it raised an alarm over the rising rate of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta, disclosing that about $3.27 billion worth of oil has been lost to vandalism in the past 14 months.

The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) in a presentation at a stakeholders’ engagement on oil theft in Abuja yesterday said the government was extremely worried about the tragic situation.

The Commission disclosed that most of the crude oil losses came from Bonny Terminal Network, Forcados Terminal Network and Brass Terminal Network.

It listed factors that were aiding the criminal activities as: economic challenges, inadequate security, poor surveillance, poor community engagements, exposed facilities and stakeholder compromises.

The commission stated that due to the high level of theft, the country has been unable to meet its OPEC production quota.

Speaking on the issue, the Chief Executive of NUPRC, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe said the government was determined to end the menace so that the country can benefit from the rising price of oil and also to protect the environment from oil spills.

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According to him, “the issue of oil theft has become a very worrisome issue to the government of Nigeria and I believe to you as investors too”.

Engr. Komolafe stressed that it was important that the government and the oil companies’ work together resolve the issue especially on the agreed volume of oil lost to vandals as the issues strike at the heart of Federation revenue.

“You will recall that in the last one week we have set up a crack team for us to determine the accurate figure because as a government we cannot continue to act on the basis of an abstract or inaccurate figure in dealing with an important issue as crude oil theft because the issue goes to the heart of Federation revenue”.

He noted that “the concern of the government is to increase our national oil production. Basically, we are an oil economy and when the upstream is sick it affects the wellbeing and the health of the country.

“The situation that is happening in the upstream is getting to the level of threat to the existence and wellbeing of Nigeria.

“As a responsible regulator we are very concerned about it. We have been doing a lot and we are not relenting.

“We will do everything possible to increase oil production in a manner that will make the nation benefit from the upward swing in the international price of crude oil”.

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