By Obas Esiedesa, Abuja
Worried by Nigeria’s inability to improve its oil production volume despite high oil price, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has set up a panel to investigate the activities of oil companies following claims of high oil theft in the country.
The companies had earlier this month claimed that over 90 percent of oil production in the country was being stolen daily by pipeline vandals.
NUPRC Chief Executive, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe in a statement in Abuja yesterday said the team of experts would carry out a thorough audit of the activities of operators in the upstream petroleum industry in the last two years, to ascertain the actual volume of crude oil stolen by vandals and saboteurs.
Komolafe said the panel would carry out “a forensic investigation to cover the technical and commercial operations of oil companies involved in drilling and selling of crude oil”.
He explained that “the Commission is not unaware of the tragedy of oil theft which has been a plague on the industry and had last year triggered an industry-wide initiative aimed at curbing it and increasing crude production levels; a development which followed an express presidential directive”.
He pointed out that President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier directed that all necessary mechanisms should be activated to curb oil theft in particular and immediately end other forms of economic sabotage in the oil and gas industry.
“Action on the directive commenced immediately and is on-going”, he added.
While stressing that the commission considered the claims worrisome, especially the crude oil loss figures in the public domain, he disclosed that NUPRC has “activated all the necessary mechanisms to get to the root of the matter and establish the actual volume of crude stolen as against the volumes claimed.
“While stepping up efforts to deal with the issue of oil theft in collaboration with the military and other relevant agencies, the Commission has mandated the newly constituted panel to investigate the claims regarding the volume of theft from the various oils fields and establish the actual operational capacities of the operators; to find out if the volumes being touted are actual; and if so, what additional measures need to be put in place to effectively address the issue”.
The Chairman of Independent Petroleum Producers Group (IPPG), Abdulrazaq Isa had two weeks ago said over 98 percent oil produced by local companies were stolen daily.
Mr. Isa therefore urged the government to urgently address the issue of oil theft in the Niger Delta region.
According to him, “Notwithstanding the notable achievements recorded in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria, there is an existential threat facing us today. Insecurity has assumed a different dimension as the level of theft of crude oil is both unprecedented and unsustainable.
“In 2021 alone, producers in some parts of the Niger Delta suffered losses of between 15 percent to as high as 90 percent. Such monumental losses attributable to theft are a major threat to our business, revenues to government as well as to national security”.
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