24th May, 2012
The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Engr. Austen Oniwon has called on the House of Representative to assist the oil and gas industry in combating the menace of illegal oil bunkering and crude oil theft which is currently hampering the smooth operation of the petroleum industry.
Engr. Oniwon who stated this on Thursday while welcoming members of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) on an oversight visit to the NNPC Towers in Abuja, reiterated that the nation is currently losing about 180,000 barrels of crude daily to the activities of the crude oil marauders.
“The first challenge which I would like the House to help us with is the high level of insecurity of oil and gas facilities. As at today our operations have been severely handicapped by the activities of these criminals. We lose almost 180,000 barrels of oil per day to criminals. If you reflect back that the total amount of crude produced per day in Ghana which sustains the whole country is about 120,000 barrels, yet as a nation we lose more than that to criminals,’’ Oniwon stated.
The GMD said beyond the financial damage to the national treasury, the bigger implication lies in the near permanent environmental damage to the zone where these illegal activities take place.
The NNPC helmsman warned that if left unchecked the environmental damage wrought by the activities of the oil thieves and illegal oil refineries could make the Ogoniland pollution look like a child’s play.
“These people drill into the pipeline, take what they want and at the end of the day, they just leave the pipeline to gush out its content into the environment. The case is even worse for those who engage in illegal refining. They just take crude oil into drums, put fire underneath, boil it and whatever boils off it is what they take,’’ he said.
Engr. Oniwon noted that because the volume of what the criminals could possibly evaporate from the mix is about 20 to 25 per cent – the remaining 75 per cent is poured on the bare floor thus inflicting massive pollution on the environment.
“ And because Hydro-carbon can stay in the ground for decades and even centuries it means in practical terms, it will take generations before the land can be recovered and made productive again . A UN report indicates that the oil has penetrated 30 metres deep into the soil- so even if you want to remediate the environment you cannot scrape 30 metres of top soil and replace same. So we are looking at a near permanent damage to the environment,’’ Oniwon lamented.
On the oil exploration activities at the Inland Sedimentary Basins particularly, the Chad Basin, the GMD lamented the paltry appropriation from the National Assembly which he stated is slowing down the tempo of on-going oil search in the area.
“Last year we proposed a budget but we got just $230,000 which is totally inadequate. This year we proposed a budget of $269m for 2012, we only got $75m. So our desire to explore for oil in the Inland Basin is being defeated because of poor budgetary allocation. But we will continue to try our best so we can open up the Inland Basins to produce more crude and gas for this country,’’ he stated.
The GMD also called on the House to help fast track work on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
In his presentation, Muraina Ajibola, Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) pledged the readiness of the Committee to work with the NNPC as part of its statutory oversight function in such a way as to ensure that Nigerians benefit adequately from the proceeds of the nation’s hydrocarbon resources.