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FG cracks down on crude oil thieves to save the economy

By Uche Usim, Abuja

in the In a fresh attempt to save the economy from dying of asphyxiation, the federal government has taken the fight against crude oil theft even further by revamping security agencies stationed in oil-producing communities across the Niger Delta region.

The move also comes with the establishment of a command and control center to oversee all activities in the crude oil production value chain; from drilling to shipping to specific markets.

Also planned is a whistleblower policy that will protect and financially reward those who offer credible information leading to the arrests of both the crude oil thieves and the pipeline vandals.

Another strategy is to solidify diplomatic ties with host countries, which should sound alarm bells if ships carrying stolen Nigerian crude oil are sighted on their shores.

These were the conclusions of a strategic meeting between the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) and safety authorities on the urgent need to bring crude oil production back to optimal levels while ensuring adequate safety for operators signing new sharing contracts of Oil Production (PSCs) signed with the federal government over the weekend.

Security sources told the Daily Sun that the federal government is more determined than ever to crack down on the unprecedented oil theft as the unfortunate development has become a sink-or-swim situation for the country.

“There were postings and repostings. There is also acquiring facilities to deal with these oil thieves. We now have better communication and coordination and are making progress. We make arrests, destroy illegal refineries and seize barges and ships. This is for the good of the country. We take on self-interest and there is no turning back. I can’t tell you who’s involved for security reasons, but it’s not business as usual,” a security source told the Daily Sun.

A report by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the Independent Petroleum Producers Group shows that from January 2021 to February 2022 Nigeria lost $3.2 billion to crude oil theft. Over $1 billion was lost in the first three months of the year.

According to Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva, the ugly development has thwarted the government’s efforts to attract new investments in the oil and gas sector, despite the passage of the Petroleum Industry Law. He added that Nigeria was losing 400,000 barrels a day to the threat and warned that the economy could collapse entirely if left unchecked as it largely survives on crude oil revenues.

However, the new PSCs are banking on the amicable resolution of all pending industry disputes to develop and monetize over 10 billion barrels of crude oil with the ability to generate over $500 billion in revenue for stakeholders and ultimately achieve energy security for the country .

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