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Oil workers threaten to suspend production over crude oil theft, insecurity

By on April 2, 2013

WORKERS in the nation’s petroleum and gas industry, have expressed concerns over the alarming rate of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, saying it should no longer be tolerated

The workers, uderthe aegis of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and  Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association, PENGASSAN, also decried the level of insecurity in the country, especially kidnappings, killings and attacks by the  Boko Haram members and resurgence ofviolence in the Niger Delta.

They threatened to suspend production of crude oil and supply of petroleum products should government fail to take concrete steps to address the issue.

Speaking to Vanguard on behalf of both unions, President of PENGASSAN, Babatunde Ogun, said crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism was becoming scandalous and a national embarrassment that needed drastic solution.

According to him: “Despite the presence of the Joint Task Force, JTF, to combat illegal bunkering and granting the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, the power to bear arms to combat product pipeline vandalism, the practice has continued not only unabated but brazenly.

“Our security forces have been unable to arrest this unwholesome practice as attested to by the running battle they keep having in Arepo, Ogun State for example over product pipeline vandalism .  Also, few days ago there was a shut down by Shell Petroleum Development Company SPDC, of the Nembe Creek Trunk Line where an estimated 60,000 barrels per day of crude oil was stolen and Agip’s suspension of production activity in Bayelsa State where 60 percent  of its production of about 90,000 barrel per day was stolen.”

“By government’s own admission about 10 percent of Nigeria’s total crude oil production of about 2.5million a barrel per day (MMBPD) i.e. about 250KBPD is stolen, this is almost two and a half times the total production of our neighbour, Ghana. The nation therefore loses about $6billion yearly to crude oil theft and another N165billion to theft of refined products. This is a threat to our national security and our democracy as people who are making such humongous amount of money can destabilize both our democracy and our National security. The experience of Columbia, Afghanistan and other countries where criminal gangs have established organizations should prompt the federal and state governments to act very fast before the situation get out of hand.”

Continuing, he said “although the Miscellaneous Offences Act provides for life imprisonment for anyone stealing crude oil or petroleum products or vandalizing the pipelines, hardly is anyone caught or prosecuted. We believe the security agencies are complicit in this menace of our national resource and government needs to step up to the plate and summon the required will to fight this patent threat to our nation. If nothing concrete is done, we may be forced to suspend production of crude oil and supply of petroleum products until appropriate action is taken.

“In ensuring the continuous existence of the oil and gas industry and the growth of our national economy, we demand that the government must endeavour to create a template in the PIB that will give room to re-investing part of the proceeds from oil back to the industry, diversify into development of other sector of the economy, especially the solid mineral sector, and save for the future generation.”

On insecurity, Ogun said “The security situation in the country has deteriorated to the level of dragging Nigeria into the precipice as well as threatening the political stability of this nation. The several kidnapping, killings and attacks by the members of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram and resurgence of kidnapping in the Niger Delta as well as other various crises that engulfed some parts of the country are testimonies of insecurity in the country. We are totally condemning the helplessness of our security agencies to check as Nigerians are beginning to lose faith and trust in the government. We are calling on the Federal Government to without delay evolve the political will to deal with the situation and stop sacrificing Nigerians while paying lip service to the issue of security.”

“We are also calling on political office holders, especially the governors and local government chairmen to channel their security votes to step up intelligence gathering and surveillance to nip crime in the bud at the planning stage. We are equally asking all appropriate agencies charged with the orientation and enlightenment to redouble their efforts at steering our youths to channel their energies towards National Development by giving up crimes. Again, we advise Mr. President and his Federal Executive Council not hesitate to seek foreign help in ending the insecurity menace. We want President Goodluck Jonathan and all political officer holders as well as their gladiators to know that the survival of this country depend largely on peace and political stability.”