Senate Committee that investigated oil theft fails to name thieves

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By Haruna Salami

The report of the Senate Ad-hoc Committee that  investigated Oil Lifting, Theft and the impact on Petroleum Production and Oil Revenues fell short of the expectation of many as it did not name the oil thieves.

Senator  Akpan Albert Bassey (Akwa-Ibom North East), Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee made 14 recommendations, but could not name the corporate or individuals responsible for the havoc in the oil industry.

The Committee observed issues that cause “conflict, creating crises, or adversely affecting the ease of doing business for oil and gas producers, with the consequential negative effect on revenue assurance” and merely recommended this:

“The Hon. Minister’s letter dated 7″ July, 2022 (as attached) and the directives therein are in conflict with the extant provisions of the PIA, particularly sections 7(e), 8(d), 32(ii) and 174(a) and should therefore be jettisoned as the law (PIA) takes precedence over administrative directives which are inconsistent with its provisions;

“The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) should resume full regulatory oversight of all existing crude oil terminals in Nigeria, including integrated terminals, crude oil pipelines, issuance of loading clearance and processing of export permit in line with section 8(d) of the PIA, as regulatory activities at crude oil terminals are interdependent and contingent.

“As intended in the PIA, the Nigerian Midstream & Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) statutorily should concentrate fully on regulating the midstream and downstream activities i.e. from refineries, mid and downstream gas infrastructure, supply, storage and distribution of refined petroleum products, petrochemicals, virtual pipelines and retailing facilities, in line with the provisions of the PIA, including future stand-alone crude oil and natural gas export terminals;

“There should be an immediate streamlining of the agencies present at the terminals in line with the relevance of their PIA delineated upstream and midstream/downstream statutory functions while NUPRC should strengthen deployment of digital accounting procedures (such as advance cargo declaration, digital integration of  Lease Automatic Custody Transfer (or LACT units) at all crude oil terminals for transparent hydrocarbon accounting.

“NUPRC should fast track the upgrade of the National Production Monitoring Systems (NPMS) to enable Real Time monitoring of Flow station and Terminal activities.

“NUPRC should expedite the deployment and strict enforcement of the Advance Crude Oil Cargo Declaration solution for detection and mitigation of illegal movement of vessels, to ensure adequate curtailing crude oil theft should be a collective responsibility thereby well-meaning members of the public must be encouraged to report illegal activities and transactions in stolen crude oil that may come to their knowledge from any part of the world.

“Nigeria should seek international financial collaboration to check illegal Letters of Credit used to fund the sale and purchase of Nigeria stolen crude, as such illegal crude sales can only be transacted through the world financial system. The Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) must ensure effective and periodic oversights of the upstream petroleum sector.

“The Clerk of the Senate should communicate the resolutions herein to the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources, Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, international and indigenous operating oil companies, and other relevant agencies for immediate adoption and implementation.

However, when Senator Akpan, who is also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Gas was asked by journalists who the oil thieves are, he simply said “we should accept collective responsibility” adding that “the loss of 2 billion dollars was huge and could have taken care of our fiscal deficit”.