The Federal Government reports a loss of N4.3 trillion due to oil theft over the past five years.

During the Nigeria International Pipeline Technology and Security Conference in Abuja, with the theme, ‘Bolstering Regulations, Technology and Security for Growth,’ the Federal Government revealed that crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism have caused a loss of over N4.3 trillion in the past five years, involving 7,143 cases.

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), a Federal Government agency, presented these findings, stressing the urgent need to address the national emergency posed by oil theft and losses. Ogbonnaya Orji, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, explained that this situation jeopardizes oil exploration and exploitation, with severe negative consequences on economic growth, business prospects, and oil company profits.

Orji backed his claims with data from NEITI’s reports, stating, “In the last five years, from 2017 to 2021, Nigeria recorded 7,143 cases of pipeline breakages and deliberate vandalism, resulting in crude theft and product losses of 208.639 million barrels, valued at $12.74 million or N4.325 trillion. NEITI reports also disclosed that during the same period, Nigeria spent N471.493 billion to repair or maintain pipelines.”

He emphasized that the oil and gas sector accounts for a significant portion of Nigeria’s total exports, government revenue, and job creation. However, despite its strategic contributions, the country has not fully benefited from its oil and gas resources due to oil theft and losses resulting from pipeline vandalism, integrity compromise, sabotage, and regional insecurity.

Oil theft is primarily carried out through pipeline clamping, illegal connections on major pipelines, exploiting abandoned oil wellheads, pipeline breakages, and vandalism of key national assets to siphon crude into waiting vessels at strategic terminals. Orji also noted that these activities often occur with the complicity and silence of local communities.

Orji pointed out that many members of the pipelines association are directly or indirectly involved in providing the skills and knowledge needed for oil theft. He highlighted NEITI’s data, which shows that Nigeria lost 619.7 million barrels of crude valued at $46.16 billion or N16.25 trillion between 2009 and 2020. Additionally, Nigeria lost 4.2 billion liters of petroleum products from refineries, valued at $1.84 billion between 2009 and 2018, exceeding the country’s foreign reserves and nearly ten times its oil savings in the Excess Crude Account.