Against the backdrop of recent figures of missing/stolen crude oil put at 200,000 barrels daily by the NNPC Limited, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo late on Monday night disclosed that it is practically impossible for such quantity of crude to be stolen daily, given the deployments of Nigerian Navy Ships and other operational platforms spread across the nations maritime domain.
The huge/shocking but disputed oil theft figures had been given by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and the Ministry of Petroleum which the total estimated quantity of barrels stolen per day at between 200,000 to 400,000 per day.
However, speaking as guest of Channels TV, Vice Admiral AZ Gambo clarified that the data may not have emanated from oil theft alone noting that the government agencies were mistakingly attributing/calculating losses due to force majeure, and shut-ins as part of oil being stolen.
He said, “As much as there is no perfect system, the phenomenon of oil theft and losses must be properly de-conflicted in order to profer lasting solutions to the malaise which is currently bedevilling our economic resources.
“We need to understand the differences between oil theft and of course, oil loss. While oil theft is siphoning oil from vandalised pipes into barges, oil losses occur when there is non-production, especially during shut-ins and force majeure as the federal government does not earn the desired revenue it should”.
Explaining further, the CNS said oil losses could be as a result of metering errors on the operating platforms, while the volume of crude oil shut-ins from non-production are often added to oil theft data instead of accounting for them as oil losses by the authorities.
“This should not be. Some sources also claim that about 20,000 to 200,000 barrels per day are being considered stolen. Most of these claims are definitely outrageous and they are unrealistic,” he insisted.
Butressing the fact that it is practically impossible to steal such volume of oil without being detected, Admiral Gambo said, “Let us even briefly analyse this. For instance, 100,000 barrels of crude oil is equivalent to 15,800,000 litres of crude, which requires a five-ton barge making 3,160 trips per day to convey this product out of the creeks.
“How do you pass the estuaries with this? So, let’s assume now you even have many barges because of the time required to carry out this product. That means you entirely close the navigable waters heading out to sea, through the estuaries, to embark them or to transit them into a mother vessel that will eventually take them out of the country.
“Of course, this is most unlikely considering the heightened presence of security agencies in the maritime environment as well as the launch of the subsisting operations by the Nigerian Navy, including of course, the deployment of the maritime domain awareness facilities”.
Recall that many Nigerians have in recent times interrogated the reports of huge crude oil stealings in the nation’s maritime domain and wondered if the Navy were complicit in the oil theft which had made it difficult for the country to produce the 65 per cent of its allocation/quota by Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The Naval Chief while maintaining that efforts have been intensified to detact and foil crude oil theft, noted that in the last four weeks the Navy has detected a number of vessels attempting to load crude and liquefied natural gas within offshore terminals without necessary documentation and approval from the relevant authorities like the NNPCL.
He listed some of such incidences that have occurred in the past four to five weeks to include the arrest of MT Arabia, which is an LNG supertanker, which entered the country on the 12th of July to load liquefied natural gas without relevant documents.
Also foiled was MT Trinity Arrow, which was also apprehended for entering without necessary approval but only got clearance to load LNG on the 12th of July also after its papers were updated.
The latest, he said, is the supertanker, MT HEROIC which is 336 meters long, and 60 meters wide, describing it as a very massive ship.
“Imagine the size of three football fields and 1/3 more. It has the capacity of carrying 3 million barrels”.
Consequently, the CNS disclosed Gambo that talks were in progress to ensure the handover of the super tanker, MT Heroic for a proper investigation into its actions and why it accused the Nigerian Navy of being sea pirates.