There is massive collusion among regulatory agencies tasked with curtailing the problem of oil theft in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, the House of Representatives said in its findings.
In its preliminary report, the house’s ad hoc committee investigating crude oil theft and loss of revenue from oil and gas companies said the chief culprit appeared to be the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited.
The committee, led by Kabiru Rurum (Kano NNPP), also asserted that most of the oil shore axis’ marginal field operators encourage oil theft to make up for production deficits.
In a report from the committee findings sighted by Peoples Gazette on Sunday, Mr Rurum was quoted as saying this at the hearing on September 8 that the committee will not jump to conclusions on any allegation until its findings are completed.
The committee looks into many charges of abandoned and non-decommissioned oil wells and pipelines suspected of escalating oil theft.
According to the report, the committee has held extensive interrogations and interactions with security agencies. It will be engaging intensely with the operators of the marginal fields, 14 production-sharing contract operators and 57 joint venture operators in the days ahead.
It said the investigation has thus far uncovered massive corruption and collusion of regulatory agencies at the export loading terminals.
The report stated that investigations have shown that many arrested ocean vessels involved in massive underhand dealings had the tacit approval of NNPC Limited.
“To worsen the situation, NNPCL is alleged to have eased out regulatory agencies whose statutory responsibilities at the terminals would have checkmated massive underreporting of actual volume of Nigerians crude oil being exported.
“Most of these thefts occur offshore, and most of Nigeria’s export loading platforms are offshore,” it said.
The report also alleged that some senior serving and retired officers of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Agency (Formerly DPR), suspected of being complicit, may have a stake in the marginal fields and the abandoned oil wells that dot the entire Niger Delta.
“From the reports received so far, most of the abandoned and non-decommissioned oil wells and pipelines have escalated incidences of oil theft.
“Circumstances surrounding the release of arrested and complicit vessels by prosecuting agencies are also being looked into by the committee.
“The committee is seriously beaming its searchlight on these operators: From the submission of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), some of the marginal field operators in the country include, Niger Delta Petroleum Resources Limited, Prime Exploration & Production (operator), Suffolk Petroleum Limited, Oriental Energy Resources Limited, Universal Energy Limited, Prime Exploration & Production (operator), Pillar Oil Limited, Platform Petroleum Limited, Chorus Energy Limited, Millenium Oil and Gas Limited, Brittania U-Nigeria Limited, Network E&P Limited, Waltersmith Petroman Limited (operator), Morris Petroleum Limited, Midwestern Oil and Gas Limited, Suntrust Oil Company Limited, Frontier Oil Limited, Energia Limited (operator), Oando Production and Development Limited, Excel Exploration & Production Limited, Green Energy International Limited,” the report said.
Nigeria, the largest oil producer in Africa, has long struggled with the problem of crude oil theft, which has harmed its economic and national security.
This illicit activity typically entails illegal crude oil extraction and smuggling, pipeline vandalism, and bunkering, which causes serious economic losses for the nation and environmental destruction.
In 2019, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited reported that $159 billion was lost to oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
To curtail this problem, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Abbas Tajudeen, set up the ad hoc committee following a motion sponsored by Rep. Philip Agbese (APC – Benue). Mr Abba, during the committee inauguration, decried that Nigeria had lost over N16 trillion to oil theft in 11 years.