Nigeria’s biggest export and a major source of forex, crude oil has been barraged for the most part of this year with overboard theft. The nation has lost more than 120 million barrels of crude oil to oil theft in the last nine months.
The rate of pipeline vandalization, crude oil theft, sea robbery and other maritime illegalities within Nigeria’s backwaters has taken a worrisome dimension in recent times.
The level of crude oil loss in production translates to $12.6 billion going by crude oil production data obtained from the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).
While the FG had proposed a budget of N20.5 trillion ($47.3 billion) in 2023 with the feasibility of relying heavily on borrowing amidst the country’s debt crisis, the $12.6 billion loss from the oil production would have provided a quarter of what is needed to finance the budget.
Infrastructure issues, pipeline leaks and oil theft have squeezed Nigerian output this year, leaving the country consistently below its OPEC crude targets. Nigeria’s own submission to the OPEC Secretariat put September crude output at just 938,000 b/d, just over half its quota for the month, while total liquids production was only 1.14mn b/d, according to the NUPRC.
Despite the challenges, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited is hopeful the nation’s crude oil production will rebound to 1.8mn b/d by the end of the year and to increase further in 2023.
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The Federal Government in August awarded a pipeline surveillance contract reportedly worth N48 billion per year (N4 billion per month) to Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, a surveillance company owned by former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo popularly known as Tom Polo’s company to check massive oil theft in the region.
Tantita has come forward with discoveries of illegal pipelines attached to the TransForcardos export trunk line. The stealing is reportedly carried out through the illicit pipeline connected to the trunk line via a pipeline abandoned by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), and linked to a location in the high sea, where they load crude oil into vessels and sell overseas.
In 2021, the total production from January to September which included crude oil and condensate, stood at 452,051,631 barrels; while the total production from January to September of 2022, made up of crude oil, blended and unblended condensate stood at 331,825,054 barrels. A 26% difference.