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Minister counters NUPRC, blames theft for oil losses

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, on Monday, insisted that crude oil losses in Nigeria were due to theft and pipeline vandalism, opposing the position earlier given by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.

On Sunday, the NUPRC announced that about 40 per cent of the volumes credited to crude oil losses in the Nigerian petroleum industry were due to measurement inaccuracies and not theft.

It said the revelation came from a forensic audit conducted by the NUPRC covering the period of January 2020 to November 2022 on crude theft numbers.

The Chief Executive, NUPRC, Gbenga Komolafe, said the audit was to ascertain with accuracy the stolen volume of crude oil within the reference period, adding that the commission was committed to dealing with the issue of metering errors.

But Komolafe’s position was countered on Monday by Sylva, as the minister insisted that theft and pipeline vandalism were responsible for the volumes of crude oil losses across the country.

Sylva also attributed the loss of revenue from crude production to theft, pipeline vandalism and decayed infrastructure, according to a statement issued in Abuja by his Senior Adviser, Media and Communications, Horatius Egua.

The minister, however, stated that despite the challenges, the Federal Government was determined to end the trend through improved investments and security along the major oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta region.

The statement read in part, “Contrary to reports that about 40 per cent of the volumes of crude losses are due to measurement inaccuracies, he (Sylva) noted that the major sources of crude oil losses have primarily been theft, pipeline vandalism and production deferment as a result of pipeline non-availability.”

The minister was then quoted as saying, “It is a known fact that the major losses of crude oil in the country have been through theft and destruction of oil pipelines.

“Again we also know that some of the oil infrastructure is old and decayed and cannot perform at maximum capacity. And there is also the issue of lack of investments in fossil fuel in the country and the drive towards renewable energy has really hampered new investments in this sector.”

He said the Federal Government had put measures in place to restore sanity in the sector, adding that contrary to the report, the problem associated with crude oil losses were systemic issues, which were being handled with a view to finding permanent solutions.

Sylva charged the NUPRC and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority to work together to ensure that the constraints to optimal crude oil production were speedily addressed to boost national revenue.

He said the Federal Government could not continue to lose revenue through perceived lapses in crude oil production, especially at this critical period of scarce resources for the nation.

The minister emphasised that this was not the time to dwell on the mistakes of the past or engage in needless blame games, but a time to close all existing leakages and enable the government get maximum benefits from its crude oil and gas assets.

He expressed satisfaction at the improved security along the major oil pipelines in the region, and called for sustained efforts by all concerned to maintain maximum crude oil production.

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