A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to checkmate the menace of oil theft other than just identifying and locating actors in the acts and their proceeds.
The CSOs acting under the auspices of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) stated at a recent press briefing in Abuja that checkmating the menace of oil theft in the country would require more than just identifying the perpetrators but also strengthening extant security measures at oil installations points.
Auwal Musa, executive director, CISLAC, noted that in addition to Buhari’s claims of identifying perpetrators of crude oil theft and financial institutions where they lodged their proceeds, the President should also make the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to effectively undertake their statutory responsibilities.
He also stated that the government must be willing to strengthen extant vessel clearance practices around oil installations as well as enforce rules to arrest ships with their Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) transponders switched off, before its efforts at stopping crude oil theft could yield meaningful results.
“We fully support all efforts to sanction offenders and recover the funds as impunity has contributed immensely to this problem. We are however concerned that the stealing will continue unless other specific steps are taken,” Musa said.
He added that, “The NIMASA must strictly enforce the ship registration, NPA must strictly enforce the ship-to-ship transfer regulations. Further buttressing the case to urgently address the corruption, the government must also strengthen vessel clearance practices around oil installations and enforce the rule to arrest ships with their AIS transponder switched off.”
The CSOs also asked the government to institutionalize the practice of publishing the names of suspect ships involved in crude oil theft as well as updating it regularly to serve as deterrent.
Musa who talked about the poor metering facilities at oil installations in the country, equally asked that: “Government should commence the process of installing independent metering facilities that will ensure real-time measurement of crude oil production, transmission and export to prevent rogue oil firms from exploiting the current system to perpetrate oil theft.”
Speaking on petrol subsidy, the CSOs asked Buhari to disclose the intention of his government on the scheme, adding that “A quick resolution of the government’s policy direction in this regard is therefore necessary.”
Harping on how Nigeria lost over N225 billion ($1billion) to gas flaring in 2014 alone, while about 295 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas was flared in nine months, Eze Onyekepere, lead director, Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), explained that the volume of gas flared in the country could fuel about 7,000 megawatts (mw) of efficient thermal electricity power.
Onyekepere speaking on issues bordering implementation of the Nigerian Gas Master Plan (NGMP), said “In 2014, Nigeria lost about $1 billion as oil companies operating in the country flared a large proportion of the gas produced from January to September 2014. Nigeria flares about 1.2 billion cubic feet (bcf/d) of gas per day, which could fuel about 7000mw of efficient thermal electricity power, over 1,400 agro-processing facilities, 350 textile plants, 70 fertilizer plants with opportunities for creating over one million jobs.”
Quoting the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Onyekepere added that “about 295 billion standard cubic feet of natural gas was flared in the nine-month period.”
He also said that the failure of the seventh National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) has robbed the nation a huge sum of revenue; stressing that the country seems to lack a comprehensive implementable energy policy.
CSJ therefore recommended that President Muhammadu Buhari should dust the bill and re-present it to the National Assembly for quick action.
Besides, CSJ advised that the PIB be split into four parts because of the bulky nature of the bill, with the part dealing with gas isolated and immediately passed into law.
Onyekepere also said Nigerians should be encouraged to participate in funding of the gas master plan which is to the tune of $25 billion.
While noting that the country’s inability to end gas flaring in the past was due to lack of political will, the CSJ lead director said the government with the industry stakeholders should fix a definite time frame to end flaring of associated gas and fully implement the gas re-injection Act, with the new rules carrying stiff sanctions for defaulters.

Maureen Nzeogu
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