New Telegraph

Reps Seek Navy’s Support To Fish Out Crude Oil Thieves

The House of Representatives Special Committee on Crude Oil Theft and Losses has appealed to the Nigerian Navy to assist it with relevant information to unravel those behind the perennial stealing of crude oil in the country.

The Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Alhassan Ado Doguwa made the appeal over the weekend, during a special engagement with the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogala, giving assurance that information obtained confidentially by the committee shall be handled with utmost care.

Doguwa said, “Crude oil theft is a major concern to the economy of our country, Nigeria, and on that note, we feel we have to extend hands of fellowship to the relevant security stakeholders that have long been existing on the space to fight against these criminalities.

“You can all recall that in the recent projection for the year 2024, the parliament budgeted about 28.77 trillion naira based on a crude oil benchmark of $77.96 per barrel and the production of 1.78 million barrels per day.

“In January 2024, Nigeria’s oil production rose to about 1.42 million barrels per day, this represents an increase of about 6.85 per cent compared to the production figure of 1.39 million barrels per day in December 2023.

“Though there seemed to be a gradual improvement in oil production, but we are still below the OPEC quota of 1.58 million barrels per day in the 2024 budget benchmark. The major reason the country is not meeting its production targets is largely attributed to crude oil theft.

“You may recall that in the 2022 NEITI report, which is the key parameter for our economic projections, the agency stated that about 619.7 million barrels of crude oil, valued at over $46.16 billion was stolen within the period of 12 years”, a situation he said have been reported variously in the media as the situation seemed not to be abetting

“In order to address these criminalities, the house instituted this special committee and charged it with the responsibility of investigating all dimensions of oil theft and with a view to bringing all culprits to book.

Responding, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogala agreed that oil theft is a major challenge to the country’s economy.

He said the recent report by NNPC Limited on the rise of crude oil production to about 1.78 million bpd, which it said was the highest in the last three years, is still below Nigeria’s OPEC quota, giving assurance that the Navy will work in collaboration with others to ensure the quota is met.

He however lamented the shortage of personnel in the face of the vastness of the country’s waterways, which he said was over 1/10th of Nigeria’s land space, saying the Navy has less than 30,000 personnel, to man the vast sea space with operational guidelines of policing, enforcing and assisting in coordinating enforcement.

Ogala said the Navy has adopted a framework for a total maritime safety strategy, but that “There must be adequate collaboration with other agencies, and working with communities, international organizations and others”.

He said the Nigerian Navy had arrested 34 vessels between July 2023 to date, and have been subjected to requisite investigation, with some already facing prosecution by the concerned agencies, including the police and the EFCC.

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