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Mallam Mele Kyari, group chief executive officer of NNPC Limited said, Nigeria loses roughly $1.9 billion each month due to the actions of oil vandals, which has a knock-on effect on environmental deterioration.

This is despite the fact that Dr. Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, claimed that the nation loses 400,000 barrels of crude oil daily to oil theft.

When a group from the Federal Government on anti-oil theft paid a visit to Okowa on Monday at Government House in Asaba, Chief Timipre Sylva, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, revealed the information.

According to him, “as a country, we hardly meet our OPEC production quantum of 1.99 million barrels per day with our current production level of 1.4 million barrels per day which is currently being threatened by the activities of these economic saboteurs.

“This has done extensive damage to the environment and losing $1.9 billion every month is colossal, considering the nature of the global economy at the moment,” he disclosed.

Kyari restated that the team needed the support and buy-in of the Delta Government “because stopping this oil theft requires the concerted efforts of the federal, state governments, oil companies and security agencies”.

Governor Okowa had told the delegation that reviewing oil surveillance contracts based on the performance of the contractors and engagement of host communities would ensure effectiveness in securing the nation’s oil and gas assets.

He admitted that the challenge of oil theft was huge, given the level it had assumed, but expressed happiness with the steps being taken by the authorities to curb the menace.

“I am glad that we are discussing this hydra-headed issue which impacts directly on our economy and the environment.

“It impacts on the health of the people and sustainability of the environment and I am glad that we are taking some steps because there are so many issues that led us to this.

“We went through situations where gaps were created between host communities and oil companies, and unfortunately criminality set in.

“It has gone so bad but we are doing our best as a state. I am also glad about this collaboration,” he said and stressed the pertinence of a review of surveillance contracts of the oil facilities to ensure community involvement.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Sylva said this on Monday, when he paid a courtesy visit to Gov. Hope Uzodimma of Imo at the Government House, Owerri.

He described the development as a “national emergency”. He regretted that the nation had fallen short of OPEC daily quota, from 1.8 million barrels to 1.4 million barrels, due to crude theft.

He warned that such a huge economic loss was capable of crippling the nation’s economy, if not given the seriousness it deserved.

He expressed concern that the menace had persisted, in spite of the efforts by the Federal and State Governments to arrest it.

Sylva said the problem of crude theft could not be handled in Abuja alone.

“It is a national emergency because the theft has grown wings and reached a very bad crescendo.

“This is because the thefts are taking place in the communities that host the oil pipelines.

“As a result, it has become necessary to involve the stakeholders, especially the host communities.

“And because of the height and orchestrated nature of the menace, Nigeria could not take the advantage and opportunities that abound in the gas production.

“This is because no investor would want to invest where there is incessant insecurity and vandalism of the infrastructure,” he said.

The minister, therefore, appealed to the stakeholders to collaborate to solve the problem.

He commended the governor for his efforts to ensure that Imo remains safe and the economy not shut down.

In a remark, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, who was in the entourage, thanked Uzodimma for supporting the Armed Forces in the fight against the escalating criminality in the oil-producing areas in the South-East.

Irabor called on the State Government, stakeholders and communities to “be involved in the fight against oil theft to a reasonable percentage and leave the rest for the army”.

He assured the governor that the Army was ready to receive more assistance in the fight against banditry and other forms of criminality in the state and country at large.

Responding, the governor gave assurance that his administration would sustain its efforts to arrest the economic sabotage being perpetrated by pipeline vandals.

He described the consequences of crude theft as ‘’very alarming and too much to be tolerated”.

He said that the problem did not only result in a drop in oil revenue for the government but also created environmental pollution and other health hazards for the host communities.

He, therefore, called for cooperation among the stakeholders, including the Federal and State Governments, NNPC and host communities to effectively fight the scourge.

Uzodinman commended NNPC for the 200-bed capacity hospital the company was building at the Imo State University Teaching Hospital, Orlu.

Others in the entourage were the Minister of State for Education, MrGooduckOpiah, and Group MD/CEO of NNPC Limited, Mele Kyari.

The meeting was attended by a cross-section of traditional rulers and other representatives of oil-producing communities in the state.

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