Five marginal oil field operators may lose as much as N15.5 billion($100million) to bunkering by end of the year, an increase of about 25% from the N11.62 billion ($75 million) loss recorded last year, BusinessDay has learnt.
Consequently, the companies are making moves to establish a 10,000 barrels export refinery which could mitigate the effect of the activities of the oil thieves, which have caused and are still causing revenue challenges to government and the economy.
The oil companies affected are Energia, Pillar, Cross, Platform and Mid-Western Petroleum, which together have the capacity to export 30,000 barrels per day, but are being limited to 21,000 barrel per day because of transportation challenges.
According to a source close to the companies, each of them transports its crude to the terminal through the Agip facility which is close to their areas of operation.
The operators said unless government declares war on bunkering, just as it has done against Boko Haram insurgents in the northern parts of the country, the crude oil losses would continue.
Also commenting , Felix Amieyeofori Valentine, managing director of Energia, said the activities of oil thieves had impacted heavily on oil sector revenues and production, to the extent that it had been proposed that one of the solutions to persistent illegal bunkering, was to reduce the amount of crude which goes through the pipelines, by building a refinery that is export oriented, so as to reduce their loses.
The Energia boss who disclosed that his company was expected to ramp up field production to more than 10,000 barrels per day in 2014 said another reason why they were thinking of refineries, was to mitigate the effects of the recent
policy shift by the United States of America and perhaps China and some European counties, away from crude oil and gas importation, which would certainly affect the Nigerian economy.
He said the nation should start being creative, so that as the external market shrinks, it can start internal consumption and that this can be facilitated by increasing local refining capacity.
“If nobody buys our oil again, shall we not look inward to see what we can do with ourselves?”, he asked