A report has revealed that Nigeria loses between N30 and N60 trillion annually to oil theft, illegal refining, and pipeline vandalism.
The report was the product of research work carried out by a team from the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) and financed by the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SDPC).
The lead researcher, Ben Naanen , said at the public presentation of the report on Friday in Delta that 200,000 barrels of crude oil or 14 percent of the 1.4million bpd produced in Nigeria were stolen by criminals
He, however, said other sources in recent times had put the volume of stolen crude at 470,000 bpd.
For the price of crude oil pegged at over $100 per barrel and an exchange rate of N411/$1 in the official market, the loss was estimated at N8.2billion and N17billion per day, totalling N30 trillion and N60 trillion loss per year.
The professor said the financial loss was nothing compared to huge ecological damage and other attendant losses in the Niger Delta and some states in the South-East.
He said: “Nigeria must go outside conventional approaches to arrest the menace, we must think outside the box if old methods are not working. Nobody has all the answers, but Nigeria must seek something new to tackle the theft as well as the environmental and human disasters that have emerged.
“Visit to the creeks shows devastated areas everywhere. Pipes laid by oil thieves run several kilometres to bunkers that serve as storage. There are fire-resistant tanks for boiling. The products are carried in Cotonou boats to deliver to different sales points.”
The head of Shell’s Ogoni Restoration Project (ORP), Vincent Nwabueze, who confirmed the development, said tidal waves along the Niger Delta coastal area washed away the pollution along the coast and destroyed thousands of aquatic life in the area.
He said: “We are looking beyond Nigeria in the size of pollution. Oil theft goes beyond Nigeria up to Russia, China, Japan, and Mexico. But the governments of those countries are doing much to contain it. In Nigeria, people are now asking questions because awareness is increasing.
“Industrialisation will not happen without a partnership between oil companies and universities.”