The Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company, Mr Mutiu Sunmonu has advised the Goodluck Jonathan administration to tackle the “powers and principalities in high places” who are sponsors of crude oil theft rather than going to European and other foreign countries seeking help on how to tackle the menace of crude oil theft.
Sunmonu made this assertion while speaking at the ongoing Nigeria Oil and Gas 2013 Exhibition and Conference, where he also compared the stolen crude business to the drug business with with couriers, small dealers and sponsors and like the drug business all over the world, criminals who sabotaged crude oil pipelines in the Niger Delta were only working for bigger entities that should be found out and dealt with.
“The truth is that the small criminals in the creeks of Niger Delta bursting pipelines and stealing crude oil are not working for themselves. Like the drug cartels around the world, they are being sponsored by big principalities and powers in high places, which the government should go against if the fight against crude oil theft is to be won,” he said.
Sunmonu said Shell and other International Oil Companies operating in Nigeria have had their pipelines sabotaged by crude oil thieves on several occasions.
He said though it was commendable for the government to take the initiative of discussing with foreign countries suspected to hold the proceeds from the sale of stolen crude oil, the problem could easily be solved if the sponsors were found out and dealt with.
The oil company boss the problem of poverty must also be tackled by all stakeholders, adding that if there was no poverty, the perpetrators would have no reason to allow themselves to be used to steal the country’s commonwealth.
He also said the setback in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill was one of the several difficulties hindering Shell’s planned investment of about $30bn in two offshore deepwater projects in the country.
The oil companies have blamed the government both in public and privately for its failure to provide security for the pipelines despite the fact that they pay all the charges and taxes the government asks of them.
The Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Abiye Membere, similarly said the country’s total crude loss to bunkering activities had dropped from 150,000 barrels per day to 80,000bpd towards the end of 2012.
Membere said the government’s security measures to curtail the menace of oil theft in the country had so far yielded results and that the volume of crude stolen from the country had now dropped from 150,000bpd to 80,000bpd as of the end of last year.