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.”
RSHA: Amaewhule-Led Lawmakers Defy Court Order, Elect New Leaders
The crisis rocking the Rivers State House of Assembly took a new twist on Wednesday as lawmakers loyal to the former Speaker, Martin Amaewhule, sat under tight security in the complex.
This is contrary to the court order asking the two factions of the State House of Assembly to maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit filed by the Edison Ehie faction.
Recall that Ehie faction had obtained a court order that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of a suit seeking to sack Amaewhule as the House Speaker.
The Rivers Assembly had become factionalised following an unsuccessful move to impeach Governor Siminialayi Fubara.
The Amaewhule-led lawmakers are believed to be loyal to Fubara’s predecessor and political godfather, Nyesom Wike.
It was learnt that ahead of Wednesday’s sitting, cleaners had on Tuesday been deployed to clean up the Assembly complex, which had been under locks, since October 29, following an explosion in the complex the night before.
One of the cleaners said they were instructed to tidy up the complex ahead of a sitting on Wednesday.
It was gathered that the Wednesday sitting was held for about two hours as a team of riot policemen and security vans were stationed in front of the House to prevent any breaches.
It was gathered that the lawmakers elected a former Chief Whip as the new Majority Leader of the Assembly.
The member, representing Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Constituency 1, Frankline Nwabochi, was named the new Chief Whip.
An unsigned statement sent to the Assembly Press Corps obtained by The Tide said the two new principal officers accordingly took their oath of office.
Amaewhule congratulated them, charging them to be committed to their new responsibilities.
According to the statement, the lawmakers also passed the first reading of a Bill seeking to amend the Rivers State Local Government Law, No. 5 of 2018.
They also debated on the Rivers State House of Assembly Funds Management (Financial Autonomy) Bill, 2023, which passed second reading on Wednesday.
Amaewhule who described the Bill as important, expressed his conviction that Governor Fubara would assent to it after the lawmakers finally pass it.
He hinted that the governor had withheld funds meant for the Assembly for the month of November.
He said the lawmakers were determined to perform their constitutional duties despite the distractions.
He thereafter referred the Bill to the House Committee on Public Accounts for public hearing and further legislative scrutiny.
The other faction of the Assembly led by Ehie, and loyal to Fubara, had yet to react to the Wednesday development as of the time of filing this report.
Ogoni Group Mulls Recall Of Lawmakers Over Foiled Fubara’s Impeachment
An Advocacy group in Rivers State, Ogoni Development Drive (ODD), says it has begun the process to recall four Ogoni lawmakers from the Rivers House of Assembly over their alleged roles in the botched impeachment of Governor Similanayi Fubara.
The lawmakers are Dumle Maol (PDP, Gokana constituency), Barile Nwakoh (PDP, Khana), Aforji Igwe (PDP, Eleme) and Bernard Ngba (PDP, Tai).
The group’s Convener, Comrade Solomon Lenu, made this known at a news conference in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Recall that Fubara survived an alleged impeachment plot on October 30.
ODD said it had on November 10 issued a seven-day ultimatum to the four Ogoni lawmakers who partook in the plot that attempted to serve an impeachment notice to Governor Fubara.
The four lawmakers, now suspended, were asked to apologise to the Ogoni people whom they represent and to Gov. Fubara for denigrating his exalted office or risk being recalled.
“Instead of heeding this advice and embracing the olive branch extended to them, they rather embarked on an egocentric escapade,” the group said.
Lenu further said the lawmakers rather than heed to the advice by ODD, engaged in various meetings that purportedly plotted to unseat the governor.
“Governor Fubara was collectively voted for by the entire Rivers people, and as such, the action by the lawmakers has not gone well with all men and women of conscience.
“It is illogical for the erring assembly members to think it is right to impeach an innocent governor for no just cause but wrong to recall them for erring against their constituents.
“The suspended lawmakers called a bluff of ODD ultimatum, and so, we have decided to carry out this recall process in earnest, to put our democracy aright,” he said.
Lenu said the group had already reached an advanced level in sensitising and mobilising the lawmaker’s constituents to recall them.
He said that ODD had also obtained the comprehensive voters’ register of all voters in the four local government areas and constituencies.
According to him, an electronic capture form has also been created to make the petition process easier for students at various tertiary school campuses and those on holiday to sign the petition.
“So far, the response from the aggrieved constituents has been very impressive, and we shall in a few weeks’ time complete the compilation of the required signatures.
“The signatures are required for INEC to call for a referendum, which shall be carried out in branches with strict security guidance, to abort any sinister counterplot against democracy.
“We know this process is not going to be easy, but we are ready to go all the way, to create a sense of responsibility in our elected leaders,” he said.
Lenu said instilling a sense of responsibility in politicians and elected leaders would further entrench democratic tenets in the country.
The ODD convener called on the people of Ogoni to come forward and sign the petition, to end political “jamboree and illicit godfatherism” in the state.
The Tide reports that 26 lawmakers on Oct. 30 proceeded to impeach Fubara but were stopped by four pro-Fubara lawmakers led by Ehie Edison (PDP-Ahoada East II).
Mr Martins Amaewhule (Obio Akpor constituency), a close ally of a former governor, was later ousted as Speaker and Ehie sworn in as the new Speaker.
However, Amaewhule insists that he is still the Speaker of the House of Assembly, resulting in some form of confusion over the office of the Speaker.
FRSC Commander Faces Sanction Over Unauthorised Comments
The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), yesterday, disowned the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, over his recent statement on Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services.
Ibrahim was quoted to have said that VIO officials did not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
But Deputy Corps Marshal, Bisi Kazeem, in a statement, yesterday, said Ibrahim’s comment was not the position of the Corps.
Kazeem added that the concerned official had been recalled to the national headquarters for necessary disciplinary action.
The statement read, “The Federal Road Safety Corps wishes to make a pertinent clarification regarding the pronouncement by the Unit Commander, Central Business District Unit Command, Assistant Corps Commander IL Ibrahim, that Vehicle Inspection Officers, otherwise known as Directorate of Road Traffic Services, do not have the right to arrest road traffic violators, including overloaded vehicles and motorists caught using phones while driving.
“The general public is advised to disregard the statement as it had no approval of the Corps Marshal, Dauda Ali Biu, and does not in anyway reflect the corporate or general position of the Corps.
“It is important for the public know that the laws establishing VIOs/State Traffic Management Agencies give them the statutory mandate to make arrests on different offences depending on the state within which they operate. As such, the agencies should be given the maximum cooperation for the enhancement of safety on our roads.
“On this note and in line with sustaining the Corps’ resolve that road safety is a collective responsibility, and in acknowledgement of the roles the State Traffic Management Agencies like the Vehicle Inspection Officers play in complementing the statutory responsibilities of the FRSC through enforcement of traffic laws, the Corps Marshal has ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Unit Commander to the national headquarters for necessary administrative and disciplinary actions.
“The public is admonished to always comply with all established traffic regulations and cooperate with security agencies deployed to maintain law and order on the highways, irrespective of their corporate mandate.”
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