The Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, said the country lost about N16.25 trillion to crude oil theft between 2009 and 2020.
Abbas made the statement in Abuja while inaugurating an ad hoc committee to investigate crude oil theft and loss of revenue. He said the menace of crude oil theft has drastically hampered the country’s oil production growth, with Nigeria losing between five and 30 per cent of daily crude oil production.
The speaker expressed shock that critical oil and gas sector agencies had refused to honour the committee’s invite, adding that the agencies were not doing the nation any good by refusing to appear before the parliament to answer questions on the critical aspect of the economy.
He said if decisive action was not taken to address the issue, the country might be thrown into a deeper fiscal crisis due to dwindling revenue from the oil and gas sector.
Quoting data from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI, Abbas said Nigeria’s oil production declined from 2.51 million barrels per day in 2005 to 1.77 million barrels per day in 2020.
He said: “NEITI reports also show that 619 million barrels of crude valued at $46 billion were stolen in the period 2009-2020”, adding that “Nigeria has continually failed to meet its daily production quota as set by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC.”
Abbas explained further that “recently, Nigeria’s OPEC quota was reduced from 1.742 million barrels per day to 1.38 million barrels per day.
“Yet, the country is still struggling to meet this quota as daily production output was 1.184 million barrels per day and 1.249 million barrels per day in May and June 2023, respectively.
“On average, current daily production output is far from the budget assumption of 1.69 million per day. The implication is manifest in the economic crisis that the country is facing.”
The speaker said the House was aware of several efforts by past administrations to address the menace of crude oil theft with several task forces, special committees and investigative panels set up in the past, each with a wide range of findings and recommendations.
He said: “NEITI provides yearly updates on the amount of crude oil stolen or lost through sabotage. Yet, the menace of oil theft has continued unabated despite the enormous resources already committed to addressing it.”
The chairman of the committee, Alhassa Usman Rumrum, said the volume of losses occasioned by oil theft in the country and its associated impact on the economy was wholly unacceptable and could not be tolerated by any government that sincerely loved its citizens.
He said: “How this act of sabotage and breach of our national security and sovereignty is carried out daily makes a caricature of our pride as a nation and even a mockery of the acclaimed status of our armed forces.
“It is an insult to government and its institutions which must be tackled without further delay.
“It is in the light of these that the House constituted this committee and is determined to bring this ugly trend to an end. Otherwise, there may be no future for our remaining children who have not yet Japa to other countries in search of survival.”
Rumrum said perpetrators of the act should be handed over to the Nigerian police to prosecute them effectively.
The police representative, Mr Alabi Abiodun, said the police had put in place a task force to assist other security agencies in arresting those attacking oil facilities.
He said the police were committed to working with the committee to address the menace of oil theft.
The committee has been given six weeks to submit its report.