The Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Plc., Mutiu Sumonu, said on Tuesday in Abuja that Nigeria loses 5 billion dollars annually to oil theft.
Mr. Sumonu spoke at the public hearing on the upsurge of illegal oil bunkering activities in Nigeria’s coastal region.
The hearing was organised by the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and Navy.
According to him, Nigeria loses approximately 150,000 barrels of oil to illegal oil bunkering daily, and that the country lost 100 barrels daily between 2003 and 2004.
He explained that the activities of oil thieves have shifted from pilfering to a higher dimension.
The shell boss said that stakeholders in the oil sector must display the political will to fight illegal oil bunkering.
“Every tier of government must be involved in the fight against illegal oil bunkering,” he said.
Mr. Sumonu described illegal oil bunkering as a highly syndicated operation that involved oil company workers.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, gave an assurance that the National Assembly (NASS) would continue to support the committee in checking illegal oil bunkering.
Mr. Tambuwal said that the NASS is ready to respond to the enormous challenge of checking illegal bunkering.
“The House of Representatives will respond to this kind of challenge for the well-being of the country,” he said.
The speaker noted that the activities of oil thieves constitute threats to the nation’s security and environment.
Ade Abolurin, the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), also said that the corps is ill equipped to effectively check illegal oil bunkering.
He said that the corps had arrested and prosecuted 300 Nigerians and 15 Ghanaians for illegal oil bunkering.
Mr. Abolurin stressed that the corps would not compromise its position in checking the activities of oil thieves and urged effective implementation of extant laws checking illegal oil bunkering.
He called on the committee to help the corps to acquire state of the art equipment to enable it to effectively check oil theft in the country.
Muraina Ajibola (PDP-Oyo), the Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), urged the strengthening of relevant institutions by allocating more funds to them to purchase equipment.
Mr. Ajibola said that the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) needs to step up its operations to check maritime theft.
He further said that he was dismayed by the absence of some key officers of some agencies at the hearing, warning that the committee would not hesitate to invoke the relevant laws against such officers.
Other industry players who sat in at the hearing are the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), NIMASA and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The ministers of Petroleum Resources and Environment were absent at the hearing.