Nigeria lost N15tr to crude oil theft in four years, says report

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Shola O’Neil, Regional Editor, Port Harcourt

Nigeria lost an estimated N15trillion to illegal bunkering rings and other crude oil thieves in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country between 2015 and 2018, a report by the New Nigeria Foundation (NNF) has shown.

The figure, which translates to about $41billion (exchange rate N360/$1), is 43 per cent of the nation’s oil earning for the period and places Nigeria as the worst country in terms of crude oil theft globally, it added.

The report titled: ‘Unboxing crude oil theft in Nigeria’, estimated that the fund lost to crude oil theft during the four-year period could have helped bridged 28.7 per cent of Nigeria’s budget deficit for the period under review.

The report said: “In the last four years, Nigeria has lost approximately 43 per cent of recorded revenue to oil theft, which amounts to 17per cent of the country’s budget for same period.

“The amount lost could have paid 28.7 per cent of Nigeria’s budget deficit in that period.”

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NNF Senior Programme Manager Chikodi Chiedo said crude oil theft has become a multi-billion dollar industry “with a lot of players at various levels involved.”

The report published by the PIND Foundation, adduced reasons for the attractiveness of the illicit oil industry, noting: “Crude oil theft occurs for several reasons, including poverty, high unemployment, grievances about resource control, among others.”

It also identified poor governance of oil revenue, corruption and a lopsided revenue structure, among others, as contributors to the spike in oil thefts.

Quoting a 2005 World Bank report, it estimated that 80 per cent of Nigeria’s oil and gas revenues accrued to one per cent of its population, adding: “Ninety-nine per cent of the population received the remaining 20 per cent.”

The NNF report said the above scenario was responsible for the “emergence of militant groups demanding resource control and development. Kidnappings, sabotage and illegal bunkering soon followed.”