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Nigeria’s Crude Oil Output Drops By 12.5%

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Nigeria’s crude oil output dropped by 12.5per cent to 1.4million barrels per day (mb/d), including condensate, in the first half (January – June) of 2022, from 1.6mb/d in the corresponding period of 2021, according to the latest report of the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).
NUPRC attributed the decline in output to pipeline vandalism, oil theft and the booming illegal refining in the Niger Delta.
The commission further said that between 200,000 and 400,000 barrels of crude were lost to the oil thieves daily during the period.
The NUPRC report further showed that the nation was unable to meet the quota of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), currently standing at 1.826mb/d.
Attacks by oil thieves in 2021 alone culminated in the loss of over $4.01billion.
At the current price of over $90 per barrel, the expected windfall that should have accrued to the country has been lost to the thieves, especially now that the government is gasping for much revenue to fund its projects and programmes.
According to NNPC data, average production in 2020 stood at 1.77mb/d, before sliding consistently to 1.6mb/d and 1.4mb/d in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
The oil output was relatively high in 2020 when COVID-19 and lockdown that followed hampered the movement of goods and persons from one place to another, resulting to the production of 2.49mb/d on April 17, 2020.
The report also confirmed that the rate of oil theft kept rising as the price of crude oil recovered in the market “until March, 2022, when there was zero recovery from all the volumes that were pumped into the line”.
It also noted that oil theft, “is that it is more endemic with Joint Ventures assets and those that belong to the Independents than with Production Sharing Contracts assets. This is likely because of the nature of the JV assets, which are mainly onshore or in swamp/shallow waters. This makes the evacuation pipelines more accessible than those of the PSCs which are offshore and in deep waters.
“There is also a pattern in the way the theft is carried out. This can be discerned from the size of pipes inserted on the lines and the technology deployed in carrying out the insertion.
“In some cases, the pipes inserted to steal crude oil from the lines are small and fitted in an amateurish way. This is an indication that those involved are small time criminals, more likely artisanal refiners who operate the slew of illegal refineries that dot the creeks of the Niger Delta from Akwa Ibom to Rivers, and from Delta to Bayelsa.
“Some of the pipes fitted into the lines to siphon crude oil are big. In some cases, they are of the same size with the pipeline or of the size that is used at the terminal to pump crude into vessels. A close look at them would reveal that they are professionally fitted with the use of cutting-edge technology.
“There have been cases where riser pipes were used indicating that the criminal deployed cranes. These cases indicate that the persons involved are not the regular illegal refinery operators but sophisticated and very knowledgeable criminals with access to vessels through which they ship the stolen crude oil out of the country.
“The involvement of this last group is what accounts for the high volumes involved in the theft which has become an existential economic threat to the oil and gas industry and even Nigeria as a nation”.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd has entered into collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, the European Union and other security agencies to tackle issue of crude oil.
The collaboration, according to findings, has started yielding results saving the country the theft of N25billion worth of crude oil.
The collaboration was launched on April 1 through ‘Operation Dakatar Da Bararrwo.’
Since the launch of the operation in April, the partnership has assisted in preventing the theft of N25billion worth of crude oil and products.
Figures released showed that 23,110,102.59 litres of diesel had been seized while crude oil was put at 39,664,420.16 litres or 230,882.73 barrels.
For kerosene, about 649,775.38 litres were confiscated; while PMS had recovery of 345,000.49 litres, Sludge 380,000 litres, and LPFO 66,000 litres
During the operation, 85 suspects were arrested with 72 boats while 23 vehicles were also seized.
Personnel of the Navy, working with the NNPC also destroyed 127 ovens, 102 large pits, 148 storage tanks and recovered 41 outboard engines.
Four months ago, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva; the Chief of Defence Staff; Lt.-Gen. Lucky Irabor; and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd, Mele Kyari; visited the Niger Delta for an on-the-spot assessment of the damage done by vandals.
Shortly after the visit, a military operation followed immediately to smoke vandals out of the creeks.
Just last week, Kyari led the European Union delegation, top officials of the NNPC Ltd as well as representatives of security agencies to again visit the Niger Delta Creek to assess the ongoing fight against crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and vandalism of oil and gas installations.
The NNPC delegation had the Group Executive Director (Upstream), Engr Adokiye Tombomieye; GED Gas and Power, Abdulkadir Ahmed; the Group General Manager, National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), Mr. Bala Wunti; Manager, Joint Venture Asset, Mr Mustapha Yusufu; Head Gas Facilities, Dr Obinna Otuu; and the PTDT Upstream, Mr Olanrewaju Igadan.
The EU delegation had Mr. Matthew Baldwin (Deputy Director General, EU Commission); Ms. Samuela Isopi; (EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS); Ms. Cecile Leemans (Team Leader Southern Partnerships, EU Commission); Mr. Richard Young ( Head of Division West Africa, EEAS); and Mr. Thomas Kieler (Political Adviser, EU Delegation to Nigeria).
Other members of the EU delegation are Mr. Jerome Riviere (Programme Manager, EU Delegation to Nigeria); Mr. Juan Sell (Ambassador of Spain to Nigeria); Mr. Tarek Chazli (Charge d’affairs Italy Embassy to Nigeria); and Mr. Luis Barros (Ambassador of Portugal to Nigeria).
The delegation was also accompanied by the Commander Operations Delta Safe, Admiral Aminu Hassan.
Commenting on the development, Group Managing Director/CEO of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, had said Nigeria’s capacity to produce significantly higher volumes on any normal day than it is currently doing.
Recently, he had said: “If you inject 239,000 barrels of crude oil into either of the Trans-Niger Pipeline or the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (these are some of the major pipelines that convey crude oil to the terminals for export), you will only receive 3,000 barrels. It got to a point where it was no longer economically sustainable to pump crude into the lines and a force majeure was declared.
“In 2021, a similar trend was observed. In January of that year, out of about 239,000bpd pumped into the line, only 190,000bpd was recovered putting the loss at 19,000bpd”.
The Chairman/Managing Director of ExxonMobil, Richard Laing, pointed out that though the issue was not new, it has grown from just oil theft to organised criminality with sophisticated operation.
He had said: “As an industry, I know how hard my colleagues work to produce products that we need and to suffer the level of theft that we have is disheartening. But more importantly it is a threat to investments, a threat to the health of the industry and wealth of the nation
In its latest briefing notes, Shell Petroleum Development Company, the nation’s highest oil producer, which confirmed the development, stated: “In 2021, the combined production from the SPDC JV and SNEPCo (Bonga) fell to 493,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from 614,000 in 2020.
“The SPDC JV produced 383,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2021, compared with 497,000 barrels of oil equivalent in 2020. The fall in output was largely a result of curtailed oil production because of heightened security issues, such as crude oil theft and illegal oil refining.”

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Lloyd Lambasts Meeba For Attacking Wike

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The Chairman of Emohua Local Government Area, Rivers State, Dr. Chidi Lloyd, has taken a swipe at Senator Lee Meeba for his recent outburst against the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike.

Meeba, who is supporting the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had accused Wike of political dictatorship, and claimed that Wike vowed to stop them from campaigning for Atiku in the state without his expressed permission, lamenting that the governor frustrated his bid to contest the governorship primary of the party.

The former senator, who was recently sacked as the chairman of the Governing Council of the Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic, Port Harcourt by the governor, alleged that Wike did not allow him employ anybody in the institution, and refused to fund the polytechnic because of him.

He said the governor was also furious that he and some PDP leaders met with Atiku, recently, and promised him that Rivers would vote a PDP candidate in 2023.

But Lloyd, in his response, flayed Meeba, describing him as a coward without electoral value.

He said it was cowardice elevated to the national level for Meeba, a two-time senator, to claim that Wike ordered him not to run for governorship election.

Lloyd said Meeba displayed his cowardice again by remaining as a council chair of a polytechnic he claimed Wike refused to fund for over seven years without resigning his position.

He said: “I can only describe Lee Meeba as a coward. It is very unfortunate that he has taken his cowardice to the national level. For Lee, two-time senator to come out on a national TV to say that Wike ordered him not to run an election, and that was why he didn’t win, is a sign of his cowardice.

“He also said that he sat as a chairman of the Governing Council of the Captain Elechi Amadi Polytechnic but that the governor refused him from employing anybody, and didn’t fund the school. But he remained there without resigning. These are not human beings”.

Lloyd said Meeba lacked decency for reporting outcome of a meeting he was not in attendance because, according to Meeba, who is Ogoni, Wike met with Ikwerre elite.

He said: “He had no decency to report events that happened in a meeting that he didn’t attend. He said in his interview that it was a meeting of Ikwerre elite. How did they lose it that Governor Wike can cow all of them?

“Will he (Meeba) have been crying foul if he was given the governorship ticket? He opened his mouth to say that the governor hates Ogoni. This is the same man that has dualised the road from Saakpenwa to Kono where Lee comes from. Maybe, the governor didn’t give Lee’s company, New Tiger Head, the construction of overhead bridge that will fall and kill Rivers people.

“They have nothing to say about Governor Wike. Let him leave Abuja and come to Rivers to grant interviews. Let him come home. We are here. These are ‘food is ready’ politicians. They think that going to Atiku and casting aspersions on Governor Wike will make Atiku take them seriously.

“He has also shown that he can’t give Atiku one vote. Between Wike and Lee, who should Atiku go for, the man who called you and say you would not get one vote, and it happened that way? Let Lee Meeba point at one Ogoni he had made all through his foray in the Senate. How on earth do you think that a state like Rivers would not matter with over 3.6million votes?”

On Atiku, he said: “It is obvious that Atiku wasn’t destined to be president with his body language. As a Catholic, I will tell you that clearly. I haven’t seen a man, who is given delicious food, and he pushes it down.

“Nobody abdicates his pulpit to intruders. Atiku came back to the PDP from the APC, contested the 2019 election, lost and proceeded to Dubai. He was on that long vacation until the election period. He came back.

“This is somebody the former President told us that if he had handed over to him, God wouldn’t have forgiven him. Do they think that we don’t have memory? It is in Obasanjo’s book. Rather than look for ways and means to pull everybody together on a table, the likes of Lee are running to Abuja. Is that where the election will hold?

“I want to remind Lee that his school, the secondary school he attended in his community is leaking. He attended Government Secondary School, Rumueme. No roof”.

Lloyd insisted that the plot by Atiku and those loyal to him to create crisis in Rivers PDP was an exercise in futility because the party’s leaders were solidly behind Wike.

He said: “There is no crisis in Rivers PDP. Governor Wike is in charge. We are satisfied with Governor Wike. That was why some of us who went to APC came back to join forces with him. Can’t you see what is happening that there is no other political party in Rivers? We are solidly behind Wike.

“Lee opened his mouth and said that Wike said he should not buy form: Forms sold at the national secretariat. Former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, should not allow these characters to mess up this chance that he has. These people only profit from crisis. We know Ledogo Meeba. He has no pedigree to cast aspersions on Wike”.

By: Akujobi Amadi

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Three Nigerians Face $5m Cyber Fraud Charges In US

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Three Nigerian citizens were extradited from the United Kingdom and arrived in the United States over an alleged participation in multi-million dollar cyber fraud schemes.
According to the US Department of Justice, last Wednesday, the defendants are Oludayo Kolawole John Adeagbo also known as John Edwards or John Dayo, a 43-year-old Nigerian citizen and UK resident, Donald Ikenna Echeazu who also bears Donald Smith or Donald Dodient and Olabanji Egbinola,
They engaged in cyber-enabled business email compromise (BEC) fraud schemes in the Western District of North Carolina, Southern District of Texas and Eastern District of Virginia.
The scams allegedly perpetrated by the defendants targeted unsuspecting victims including universities in North Carolina, Texas and Virginia, and attempted to cause more than $5million in losses.
Adeagbo and Echeazu are charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and aggravated identity theft for defrauding a North Carolina university (the University) of more than $1.9million via a business email compromise scheme.
The summons was returned by a federal grand jury in the Western District of North Carolina on April 17, 2019, and was unsealed on Tuesday following Echeazu’s initial appearance in federal court in Charlotte.
According to allegations contained in the indictment, from August 30, 2016 to January 12, 2017, Adeagbo and Echeazu colluded with other individuals to obtain information about significant construction projects occurring throughout the United States, including an ongoing multi-million-dollar project at the victim university.
They went ahead to execute the scheme as they allegedly registered a domain name similar to that of the legitimate construction company in charge of the university’s project and created an email address that closely resembled that of an employee of the construction company.
They used a fake email address to allegedly deceive and direct the university to wire a fund of more than $1.9million to a bank account controlled by an individual working under the direction of defendants.
Upon receiving the payment, the accomplices allegedly laundered the stolen proceeds through a series of financial transactions designed to conceal the fraud.
The wire fraud conspiracy charge and the money laundering conspiracy charge each carries a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison.
The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory two-year prison sentence consecutive to any other term imposed.
The FBI Charlotte Field Office conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Graham Billings of the Western District of North Carolina is prosecuting the case.
Adeagbo was also charged in the Southern District of Texas with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud and the report said he faces up to 20 years in prison, if convicted on the charges.
The FBI Houston Cyber Task Force conducted the investigation with the assistance of the FBI Cyber and Criminal Investigative Divisions with other security agencies.
Also, Egbinola, a 42-year-old man is charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
According to a criminal complaint issued by the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, from September 26, 2018 to December 26, 2018.
Egbinola is alleged to have conspired with others to defraud a Virginia-based university. He and co-conspirators created and used a fraudulent email account that incorporated the name of a construction company that had a large, ongoing contract with the university.
Using this email account, Egbinola and collaborators deceived the university into transferring $469,819.49 to a bank account controlled by Egbinola and his accomplices.
That money was quickly laundered and transferred overseas through numerous transactions. Evidence obtained during the investigation showed that Egbinola repeatedly accessed the email account used to defraud Virginia University.
All three defendants were arrested April 23, 2020, by UK authorities at the request of the United States and ordered extradited on September 3, 2021.
All three defendants filed appeals, all of which were rejected by the UK High Court on July 12, 2022.

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NLNG Dismisses $1.2bn Crude Oil, Gas Theft Report

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The Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) has dismissed, as false and spurious, insinuations in some media reports that the company’s officials, in any way, facilitated the illegal sale of crude oil and natural gas to certain buyers without authorisation.
The company, in a statement by its General Manager, External Relations and Sustainable Development, Andy Odeh, yesterday, said the report was only a figment of the imagination of its purveyors, and demanded a retraction.
The statement reads in full: “The attention of Nigeria LNG Limited (NLNG) has been drawn to a publication in the Vanguard Online of 10th August 2022 under the caption: “How govt officials facilitated $1.2bn crude oil, gas theft – Source.
The report is false, malicious and deliberate as it is a rehash of fallacious claims reported in an online media channel in January 2022. NLNG had responded to the allegations, clearly stating the facts, yet Vanguard Online published the same allegations with no prior opportunity offered to the Company to react or respond to the assertions.
“The rehash in Vanguard Online is obviously calculated to cast the Company and its leadership in bad light.
“To again set the records straight, NLNG wishes to clearly state that: Deliveries of LNG from its Bonny Terminal complies with all regulatory requirements for the export of its products and are made under various LNG sales contracts s to destinations not limited to Europe, but also to the Far East, Greater Middle East, North America and South America, thus ensuring NLNG’s position as a significant competitive global LNG supplier, promoting the Nigerian Brand.
“NLNG is a responsible corporate citizen operating its business according to strong business principles and ethics in accordance with requirements of relevant Nigerian and global laws and regulations.
“From the commencement of its operations in October 1999, NLNG has never, and does not, engage in “illegal” exportation of LNG or any of its products, nor is NLNG involved in any international cartel, as alleged. It is simply not true that “… the illegal exportation is still ongoing with the backing of some top officials of government”.
“The LNG trade undertaken by the company is bound by strict protocols and controls, hence not amenable to the kind of illegitimate schemes alleged in the report.
“Contrary to the allegation of export of LNG without paperwork, records exist for every single cargo of product loaded by the company since it commenced operations, together with fully accurate accounts of destinations, quantities loaded and unloaded and related earnings on each cargo, and these are demonstrable.
“For each of the past financial years which are periodically audited, including the periods alluded to in the report, the Shareholders of NLNG, which includes NNPC and three IOCs, never reported that any cargo or product of the company was lost or unaccounted for. Indeed, the possibility of such happening is beyond comprehension.
“For the avoidance of doubt, NLNG restates that the report paints a very incorrect picture of the company’s business and its LNG trade and is at complete variance with the company’s Vision as a globally competitive LNG Company helping to build a better Nigeria.
“NLNG demands an immediate retraction of the false and malicious report in its entirety, in addition to an apology, which must be given as much prominence as the original report. The legal rights of NLNG and its impacted personnel are fully reserved.”

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