The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, has disclosed that Nigeria has suffered a staggering financial blow, losing approximately $46 billion (equivalent to N16.25 trillion) to crude oil theft between 2009 and 2020.
He voiced these concerns while inaugurating an ad hoc committee to investigate crude oil theft and revenue loss in Abuja.
Abbas emphasized the gravity of crude oil theft, which has severely hindered the nation’s oil production growth, resulting in Nigeria losing anywhere from five to thirty percent of its daily crude oil production.
He expressed deep disappointment at the reluctance of critical agencies in the oil and gas sector to cooperate with the committee’s investigation.
In his address, Abbas cautioned that if decisive action is not taken to confront this issue, Nigeria could plunge further into a fiscal crisis due to diminishing revenues from the oil and gas sector.
Quoting data from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Abbas disclosed, “NEITI reports also show that 619 million barrels of crude valued at $46 billion were stolen in the period 2009-2020.”
Additionally, he pointed out that Nigeria has repeatedly failed to meet its daily production quota set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The speaker further highlighted the nation’s ongoing struggles to reach its reduced OPEC quota of 1.38 million barrels per day, with current production levels far below the budget assumption of 1.69 million barrels per day.
These issues, he noted, have direct implications for the nation’s economic stability and are exacerbated by global uncertainties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Abbas asserted, “It is common knowledge that investment in the oil and gas sector has declined in the past few years, owing to global financing constraints and the overall response to energy transition considerations.
However, we must agree that the greatest challenge to optimizing crude oil production in Nigeria is the grand scale oil theft that has plagued the sector for the past two decades.”
The chairman of the newly constituted committee, Alhassa Usman Rumrum, underscored the significance of addressing oil theft and its impact on the nation’s economy.
He called for an end to this act of sabotage and urged Nigerians involved in such practices to reconsider, emphasizing that there is no other country to call home.
Rumrum praised the President for the efforts to rebuild the country but stressed that these efforts could be in vain unless a resolute stance is taken against oil theft and hydrocarbon unaccountability.
He urged Nigerians to embrace hope and purpose, emphasizing that only then can the nation move forward.
Mr. Alabi Abiodun, representing the Nigeria Police Force, added that a task force had been established to assist other security agencies in combating attacks on oil facilities.
He urged that perpetrators of such acts should be handed over to the Nigerian police for effective prosecution.
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