By Solomon Asowata
Chief Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, says there are about 265 illegal refineries in the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) corridor alone as Nigeria continues to grapple with oil theft.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Sylva spoke at the 60th Anniversary of the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Thursday in Lagos.
The minister, represented by Mr Kamaru Busari, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, said vandalism and oil theft had resulted in Nigeria producing less than one million barrels of crude oil per day.
Sylva said the country’s inability to meet its Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota had deprived it of the much needed oil revenue when oil prices were very high in the international market.
He said, nevertheless, the government was engaging host communities, security agencies and deploying technology to address the issue in order to boost investors’ confidence in the sector.
On his part, Malam Mele Kyari, Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd. (NNPCL), said the company was not unmindful of the current challenges, particularly security in the operational areas and cash call arrears settlement.
Kyari, represented by Mr Dapo Segun, Deputy General Manager, Treasury, NNPCL, however, maintained that the company was resilient and would work with other stakeholders to overcome the security challenges.
He said: “We have deployed creative solutions to tackle security challenges in the operational areas.
“Technological intervention for both monitoring and prompt intervention would also be set up. The tackling of the menace is a top priority for NNPCL.
“Also, our new governance framework provides us autonomy and opportunity for self-accounting hence cash-call settlement including arrears would be settled and handled promptly going forward.”
Earlier in his address of welcome, Mr Rick Kennedy, Chairman OPTS, said
“OPTS member companies are also proud to have paid tens of billions of dollars in taxes, levies, royalties, rents, and license fees to the Nigerian government.”
Kennedy, who is also the Managing Director, Chevron Nigeria/Mid-Africa Business Unit, said the OPTS companies had also created over 600,000 direct and indirect jobs for Nigerians.
Also, Mr Bunmi Toyobo, Executive Director,OPTS, thanked the 29 companies who were members of the OPTS for their contributions to its
achievements in the past 60 years.
“This celebration is to demonstrate our abiding faith in Nigeria as a group and belief in the boundless growth potential of our country, given the enabling environment,” he said. (NAN)