A maritime, oil and gas expert has blamed the worsening spate of oil theft in Nigeria to the proliferation of loading terminals in the country.
It has been estimated that Nigeria loses in excess of 100 million barrels of crude oil per day, a development that has constituted a major threat to the national economy.
It was worried by this huge loss to the economy that President Goodluck Jonathan raised the alarm, saying that it is the rich and powerful in the society that are behind the crude oil theft syndicate, which makes it difficult to fight.
Director in charge of sea time training for seafarers for the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron in Akwa Ibom State, who spoke in an interview in Oron at the ongoing training for maritime editors, noted that before now, Nigeria has dedicated terminals mostly in Bonny, Warri and Port Harcourt for the loading of crude.
According to, then representatives of all the relevant Federal Government agencies such as the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its relevant subsidiaries and the Nigerian Navy, among others maintain their presence at the points of loading.
Kponu, who retired from Shell said: “It baffles me when people talk about crude oil theft these days. Those days, I used to load crude oil for Shell, NNPC and others at Bonny, then there was only one loading point but today, there are many loading points and there is no dedicated loading point any more”, he recalled with nostalgia.
While tracing the root of the crude theft, he noted that there was no way there could be a successful attempt at stealing crude oil without the full cooperation of government and other security agencies that operate at the various loading points.
He however charged the government to step up efforts at curtailing the menace if government looked inwards.
Senior Special Adviser to the President on Marine Service, Mr. Leke Oyewole had in a recent interview hinted that the government was worried with the spate of crude theft in the country, which he said if not checked might portend dangerous consequences for the economy.
According to him, as part of measures to check the trend, the government is concluding plans to introduce a new berthing rule for tanker ships that call in Nigeria, especially mother ships, which anchor offshore because of their size and the draft of the nation’s channels
According to him, under the new rule, all such mother ships would be compelled to anchor the vessels at the anchorage and to be monitored by the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency for compliance.
He disclosed that the two maritime agencies have in the recent past acquired platforms and the human capacity to enforce compliance.
It was also gathered that the Nigeria Customs Service has also been placed on red alert should NPA or NIMASA arrest any ship caught in the act, which will be visited with the full weight of the law.
Oyewole said: ‘‘Customs has been directed to invoke relevant sections of the Customs and Excise Management Act, especially the section that empowers it to impound any vessel used for illegal activities in the nation’s waters”
“We will impound any vessel used for such illegal activities and you know that such vessels are very expensive equipment and when we impound one, others will learn their lessons”, Oyewole had further warned.
Information from National Mirror was used in this report.