The Nigerian Navy has denied claims that one of its officials had accused the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) of lying and inflating the number of oil thefts.
NNPC Not Sincere about Oil Theft, Exaggerating Figures-Navy was the headline of an article in a national daily on December 4, according to a statement from the Navy's Director of Information, Ayo Vaughan.
The NNPC has allegedly continued to intentionally mislead Nigerians about the issue of crude oil theft while testifying before the Senate Committee on Economic and Financial Crimes, according to the report.
The Navy responded by claiming that the publication completely misrepresented what happened at a recent interactive session before the Senate Committee on Economic and Financial Crimes.
According to the statement, the representative of the Nigerian Navy at the hearing noted that illicit local refiners who tap into the export lines, many of which have not been in operation since early this year, are responsible for the challenge of oil theft.
It said since February or March, the major terminals have been unable to process crude oil for export.
This inability to process crude oil for export is reported as stolen oil because it is practically impossible to move 100,000 barrels per day out of the creeks while stealing it.
Contrarily, the Navy was collaborating closely with the national oil company to apprehend and bring criminal charges against oil thieves and pipeline vandals who had disrupted the crude production process, according to Ayo-Vaughan.
“The Navy representative at the Senate hearing repeatedly mentioned that the Navy is not indicting the NNPCL in any way and has been working with the National Oil Giant to curb the menace of crude oil theft since 1 April 2022 when Operation DAKATAR DA BARAWO (OPDDB) was launched in Onne, Rivers State as a mutual effort and synergy between the Navy and NNPCL to address issues of crude oil theft, rampant illegal artisan refineries and illegal oil bunkering amongst other criminalities in the creeks,” the statement said.
“At the strategic level, almost daily and regular consultations, engagements and meetings are held between the Navy and NNPCL to review the situation, appraise the approach to curb the menace and proffer ways forward.
"Pertinently, to attempt to imply otherwise will be a gross misrepresentation of the cordial and mutual working relationship between the 2 organizations.”
Since what was said and what was meant were incorrectly captured, especially in the wording of the report's heading, Ayo-Vaughan claimed that the allegation of insincerity and exaggeration by NNPCL as reported in the news "is not, therefore, a fair wording of the actual discourse that transpired."
In order to devise solutions and remedies for the problems in Nigeria's marine environment as they pertain to the oil industry, he continued, the Nigerian Navy has been working with NNCPL and would do so in the future.
“Foremost of these mutual efforts is the planned return of the ‘Fisicalisation’ process, which was stopped in the late 1980s, whereby personnel of the Navy as at then, will now again be present at offshore oil loading terminals/platforms to physically sight the meter reading at the point of loading of crude oil to tankers at sea,” he said.
‘The first set of naval personnel to soon commence this task were sponsored by NNPCL and trained in the UAE and at Uyo, Akwa-Ibom State.
“There is thus a harmonious working relationship between the Nigerian Navy and NNPCL. The general public is thus requested to disregard the misrepresented report.”