Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has disclosed that the country loses about $2 billion monthly to the activities of oil vandals, with its attendant effect on environmental degradation.

The Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Mele Kyari, disclosed this, yesterday, when a Federal Government delegation on anti-oil theft led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, visited Governor Ifeanyi Okowa at the Government House in Asaba, Delta State.

Kyari regretted that Nigeria hardly met Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production quota of 1.99 million barrels per day with the current production level of 1.4mbpd barrels per day, which is being threatened by the activities of the economic saboteurs.

“This has done extensive damage to the environment, and losing $1.9 billion every month is colossal, considering the nature of the global economy at the moment,” he disclosed.

The GCEO restated that the team needed the buy-in of Delta government “because stopping this oil theft requires the concerted efforts of the federal and state governments, as well as oil companies and security agencies.”

But Okowa said the only way to check oil theft was to review surveillance contracts on oil facilities and involve host communities.

He said that reviewing oil surveillance contracts, based on performance of the contractors, and engagement of host communities would ensure effective security of the nation’s oil and gas assets.

He admitted that the challenge of oil theft was huge, given the level it had assumed, but expressed happiness with the steps taken by the authorities to curb the menace.

“I am glad that we are discussing this hydra-headed issue which impacts directly on our economy and the environment. It impacts on the health of the people and sustainability of the environment, and I am glad that we are taking some steps because there are so many issues that led us to this.

“We passed through situations where gaps were created between host communities and oil companies, and unfortunately criminality sets in. It has gone so bad, but we are doing our best as a state. I am also glad about this collaboration,” he said, stressing the need to review surveillance contracts of the oil facilities.

The governor pointed out that it was often difficult to secure the facilities, especially when the persons given the contracts did not have adequate information on the environment or the buy-in of host communities.

Okowa flayed the oil companies for not keeping faith with their Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs), thereby making the stakeholders to lose confidence in the system.

Earlier, Sylva had told the governor that the team was in Asaba to seek the support of the state government on measures to adopt to check oil theft, saying “as a country, we cannot sustain this kind of theft.”

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, who coordinates the security intervention against oil theft, disclosed that in the last five months, security agencies had been dealing with issues of illegal refineries and oil bunkering across the Niger Delta.

He advocated the engagement of host communities in the fight against the criminal activity.

By topey

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