Nigeria lost a total N4.57tn to crude oil theft between 2015 and 2018, according to estimates of the Nigeria Natural Resource Charter. This figure, according to the charter, meant that the country lost 43 per cent of its revenue in four years to oil theft.
Highlighting the impact of crude oil theft on the country, the Deputy Director of Programmes at New Nigeria Foundation, Mrs Bunmi Olatunde, at a workshop on Creating Innovative Technology for Artisanal Refineries in Lagos on Tuesday, said the illegal activities had caused severe revenue shortages to the government.
According to her, activities of illegal refiners are causing environmental degradation, loss of livelihoods and lives, violence and health challenges to the surrounding communities.Petroleum engineers, who spoke at the workshop organised by the NNF in collaboration with the Nigerian Academy of Engineering, called on the Federal Government to play its role in the development of communities in the Niger Delta region.
According to them, the International Oil Companies have invested a lot in developing the communities where they operate. An engineering consultant with Dangote Refineries, Babajide Soyode, stated that only the government could make sustainable social investment in Niger Delta communities and agencies charged with the responsibility of developing the communities held accountable.
According to him, modular refinery is not the solution to youth restiveness and crude oil theft in the region. “How does Niger Delta Development Commission spend the money allocated to it? The agencies of the government should be held accountable. What alternative services can be provided for the youths in the Niger Delta region? The solution is not modular refinery,” he added. Olatunde noted that there were too many agencies of the government working in silos on the crude oil theft, calling on collaboration among the Ministries, Department and Agencies.
“Crude oil theft has grown into a multibillion-dollar enterprise with a lot of actors at various levels. Therefore, no single approach can solve the problems. Interventions should be multifaceted at different levels,” he added. The Vice President, Nigeria Academy of Engineering, Alex Ogedegbe, reiterated that the development of artisanal refinery was not the solution to crude oil theft and illegal refining in the region as it presented life-threatening dangers to the operators. He recommended alternative employment opportunities for the militants who were currently involved in crude oil theft.