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$35m lost daily to oil theft - Confab committee

By The Citizen
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The National Conference Committee on Energy has said that the country is losing about 350,000 barrels of oil per day, estimated at about $35m, to crude oil theft and called on the Federal Government to wake up from its slumber and tackle the menace frontally.

The Chairman of the committee, who is also a former Governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja, stated this while presenting the report of his committee to the plenary in Abuja on Monday.

The report, a copy of which was sighted by our correspondents, stated that the issue of oil theft had reached a climax, noting that from its investigations, Nigeria was losing about 350,000 barrels of oil, or $35m daily.

Oil theft, it said, had reached an alarming proportion, adding that the government must fully assert Nigeria's sovereignty and bring the racket to a stop.

On the state of downstream assets, the committee recommended that 'government should, without delay, institute a comprehensive independent technical audit of the entire national products handling/storage/transmission system, and initiate a phased implementation of the findings.'

It also called for 'a root-to-branch audit of the entire PPMC logistical system and assets integrity be carried out as a matter of urgency and appropriate remedies mapped out for the phased implementation.'

The committee further recommended that the National Petroleum Assets Management Corporation and Nigerian Petroleum Management Company Limited should be merged for greater clarity of purpose.

The Ladoja led committee also stated that the Federal Government's amnesty programme for the Niger Delta militants was not achieving results as it was only meant for only a 'few young men,' adding that it had actually failed to effectively pacify the communities and the youth.

The committee's report stated, 'In fact, the amnesty settlement has settled only a few young men in the Niger Delta; it has yet to settle the Niger Delta communities.

'It is only fair, therefore, that the Niger Delta communities in oil producing blocks under divestment be given equity participation in the new entries buying up the IOCs' interest, since derivation share of revenue allocation that accrued to the states over the years has had little or no impact on the producing communities.

These communities must now endure the neglect of new masters, 60 years after enduring the neglect of both the foreign masters and a succession of state governments.'

It also recommended that 10 per cent equity be given to the host communities.

The report stated, 'The current divestment is bringing many indigenous operators into the sector. Accordingly, we feel that producing communities who can find the finance and are sufficiently well organised can and should be given equity of at least 10 per cent by the indigenous entities.

'For the communities to be overlooked by the government that has the right of consent to these deals does not make good sense for business or security of facilities.'

However, during a debate on the report, delegates voiced concern over the total privatisation of the power sector by the Federal Government, while advocating that it ought to play a greater role in power generation and distribution instead of leaving same to private investors.