The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas, has revealed that Nigeria lost about $46 billion (N16.25 trillion) to crude oil theft between 2009 and 2020. He said that this has severely affected the country’s oil production, revenue, and economy.
Abbas made this disclosure on Thursday while inaugurating an ad hoc committee to investigate crude oil theft and loss of revenue in the oil and gas sector. He said that the committee was mandated to identify the causes and perpetrators of crude oil theft, as well as recommend measures to curb the menace and recover the lost funds.
He said that Nigeria’s crude oil production has declined from 2.51 million barrels per day in 2005 to 1.77 million barrels per day in 2020, which is below the daily production quota of 2.3 million barrels per day set by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). He attributed this decline to the activities of oil thieves, pipeline vandals, and saboteurs, who have been operating with impunity for years.
He said that the country’s oil and gas sector, which accounts for about 90% of its foreign exchange earnings and 60% of its budgetary revenue, is facing a major fiscal crisis due to the dwindling income from crude oil sales. He said that this has implications for the funding of critical infrastructure, social services, and national security.
He expressed shock that some critical agencies in the oil and gas sector, such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), failed to honour the invitation of the committee. He said that this was unacceptable and a sign of disrespect to the parliament and the Nigerian people.
He urged the committee to be thorough, diligent, and patriotic in carrying out its assignment. He said that if decisive action was not taken to address the issue of crude oil theft, the country may be thrown into a deeper fiscal crisis that could jeopardise its sovereignty and stability.