Reps Move To Check Oil Theft By IOCs

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ABUJA, JULY 10, (THEWILL) - The House of Representatives has mapped out strategies aimed at curtailing the incidence of oil theft by International Oil Corporations (IOCs) operating in the country.

THEWILL can report that the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has continued to complain that the IOCs have consistently been shortchanging the nation and has reported the matter to the House Committee on Customs.

In a swift reaction the House Committee on Customs has vowed to seriously wade into the matter with a view to curbing the menace, especially the calibration of the amount of crude oil exported out of the country.

For the umpteenth time, the Nigeria Customs Services has reported that the IOCs have consistently been defrauding the country because of the issue of calibration in several billions of Dollars.

In their latest oversight function recently to Customs formations in the South-East geo-political zone, the House Committee on Customs heard from the Customs that the IOCs had in the past excluded the customs Service from oil export terminals to misrepresent the calibrations of the amount of crude oil exported from the terminals as the customs can only make use of the statements submitted to them by the IOCs.

Honourable Abdullahi Umar Faruk, Chairman of the House Committee on Customs corroborated customs’ submission, noting that a recent meeting with Finance Minister, Mr. Olusegun Aganga revealed that the country does not know how much crude oil it exports because of the evil manipulations by the IOCs, especially on the calibration matter.

As part of efforts to check the growing trend of oil theft, he said stakeholders at a public hearing on Customs made concrete suggestions on the way forward which will be debated when the House resumes plenary apart from the fact that officials of the Customs Service would be adequately tutored and necessary equipment made available to them to stop the oil theft which has continued unabated.

He said the IOCs had continued their cheating spree because of lack of training and logistics on the part of Customs, stating that the amount of loss so far to the country was unquantifiable but of great magnitude as the Customs Service depend solely on the IOCs for welfare and logistics, a situation he said was no more acceptable.

The issue of monitoring has before now continued to reverberate each time a public hearing on Customs was held, reasoning that the development has left the IOCs unchecked, leaving them to submit returns that are not in tune with current realities.

''We are going to discuss further with Nigerian Customs about the issue of

not participating fully as they should at the platforms where Nigerian crude is being loaded. In fact, they must know and account for whatever is exported so that adequate and necessary revenue must be taken for Nigeria", he said.

''One of the problems we found out is that they are executing their work at the mercy of oil majors and this cannot be allowed. We must equip them very well, they must have

helicopters to take them to the platforms, they must have patrol and operational boats that will allow them to put these calibrations out of their duty because they cannot be at the mercy of the people they are monitoring.

''They need to have their own operational boats and we will definitely give them because you cannot give someone responsibility and expect him to perform when you have not armed him,'' Hon. Faruk added.