Oil majors have raised fresh alarm over the return and surge in oil theft, illegal refining, and third party pollution which tend to burn out most forests and watersides of the oil region. The hold that if the trend continues without check more than 50 percent of the Nigeria’s oil earnings may be needed to clean up resulting oil spill in the region.
This is as the Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) that delivers crude from western oil fields to Bonny terminal for export is said to still be shut down due to excessive tampering and oil theft along the pipeline.
Sources in Shell said the loss on the pipeline became so huge that if 100 barrels are pumped through it, not more than five barrels would arrive Bonny. This has led to huge losses and many crude owners refused to patronize the pipeline.
At a media engagement in Port Harcourt Tuesday, the General Manager, Public Affairs for Shell, Igo Aguma, expressed fear that by the rate of pipeline breaches and oil facility vandalism, and the pollution and burn out incidents that occur in the oil region at the moment, the need for clean up of the entire region may become urgent.
The GM said soon, more than 50 percent of oil earnings or Nigeria’s annual budget may not be enough to clean up the region.
Aguma said the demand for clean-up may rise and the government may need more than half of its annual income to face the threat.
He wondered why most persons and the populace chose to sit and look while a major threat that may distort the economy and landscape of the oil region was being orchestrated.
He said oil theft, oil spill, and other oil maladies have returned to the front burner, adding that more than 90 percent of the pollutions all over the region are third party incidents.
Through several slides presented by officials of the oil major, the GM said oil theft has denied Nigeria a share of the fallouts of the war in Ukraine because Nigeria cannot explore the price surge (over $100 per barrel since February 24, 2022) because it cannot pump its quota.
He also said oil theft is why the naira is suffering against the Dollar and why some states may not pay salaries anymore, yet most Nigerians chose to look the other way.
“Oil theft and illegal refining is not Shell problem, it is a Nigerian problem”, he warned.
Aguma said Shell operates as a Joint Venture with the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) as major partner. By this, any loss is Nigeria’s loss and that every Nigerian is owner of the money being lost.
He also stated that it is the waters, land and forests of the oil region that are being burnt out and being wasted, yet the communities and the populace stand and watch as if its Shell’s problem.
He reminded the people that Shell is a global oil giant with locations in 170 countries and with diverse portfolios. He said Shell can have options but does Nigeria have much option?
He also stated that Shell was not leaving Nigeria but is only restructuring its portfolios, moving away from onshore to offshore.
Aguma made it clear that investors have a right to decide where to go and do business, and that other African countries are looking better.
The way out, he suggested, is for Nigerians to rise up and fight against oil theft and save the economy and the environment.