The House of Representatives has decided to initiate a thorough investigation into the reported crude oil theft amounting to $4 billion. The aim is to address the economic losses incurred by the country and hold accountable all individuals involved in illicit activities.
The House reached this resolution after endorsing a motion titled “Need to Investigate Crude Oil Theft and Loss of Revenue Accrued from the Oil and Gas Sector in Nigeria” by Philip Agbese.
Agbese highlighted the prevalence of news reports regarding the loss of trillions of naira due to crude oil theft and revenue losses in the oil and gas sector. He cited inaccurate measurement accounting for approximately 40% of the oil loss and theft, attributing these errors to poor maintenance of metering facilities and a lack of transparency in hydrocarbon accounting.
The motion revealed that Nigeria experienced a staggering $4 billion worth of oil theft in 2021 alone, equivalent to a daily rate of 200,000 barrels. These figures have likely increased since then. Agbese implicated security agencies, alleging their complicity and significant role in facilitating oil theft activities in the Niger Delta region.
The motion also raised concerns about the military’s alleged involvement in 99% of oil theft incidents, questioning the lack of action from the federal government to address this misconduct.
Citing a 2022 report from the Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Agbese disclosed that a staggering 619.7 million barrels of crude oil, valued at $46.16 billion, had been stolen in the past 12 years. The motion characterized crude oil theft in Nigeria as an organized crime predominantly perpetrated by the elite.
Despite substantial resources allocated to enhance the capabilities of Nigeria’s security and intelligence agencies, their performance in curbing oil theft could have been better. Agbese also criticized the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) for allegedly conspiring with national and multinational oil and gas companies to impede the effective functioning of metering facilities at various oil production sites.
Allowing crude oil theft to persist unchecked will have severe economic repercussions and negatively impact host communities’ environment, health, and social well-being.
The motion has been referred to an ad hoc committee, which will be constituted shortly. The committee is expected to submit its report to the House within four weeks.