'Powerful Nigerians' behind oil theft, Shell boss reveals
Instead of going offshore in search of those behind the 'Blood money', the federal government has been asked to look inwards and move against 'principalities and powers in high places,' who are behind crude oil theft in Nigeria rather than spending precious time and tax payers money looking for help to tackle the menace abroad.
Managing Director, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu, gave the advice yesterday in Abuja while speaking at the ongoing Nigeria Oil and Gas 2013 Exhibition and Conference, as he compared the crude oil theft to the drug business with couriers, small dealers and sponsors.
Sunmonu maintained that '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 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.
Sunmonu said 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.
He advised that efforts should be made by all stakeholders to tackle the problem of poverty among the people, adding that if this was taken care of, the problem would have been half solved, as the perpetrators would not have any reason to allow themselves to be used to steal the country's commonwealth.
Sunmonu said Shell and other International Oil Companies operating in Nigeria have had their pipelines sabotaged by crude oil thieves on several occasions.
The oil companies have privately and publicly blamed the government 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.
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.
However, the Group Executive Director, Exploration and Production, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Abiye Membere, disclosed that 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.
He said at the occasion that 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.