• Business - Economy
  • Updated: March 10, 2022

River State Targets Nigeria's $7 Billion Oil Theft Industry

River State Targets Nigeria's $7 Billion Oil Theft Industry

The governor of River State, Nyesom Wike, has declared "total war" against unrepentant oil thieves and illegal refining costing the country billions in lost revenues and contributing to environmental pollution.

Bloomberg reports that crude oil, which is thought to be Nigeria's "golden egg," is stolen and turned into gasoline, diesel, and kerosene in makeshift refineries that have sprung up in the creeks and forests of the Niger Delta.

Nyesom Wike, speaking in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt, the state capital, said, "It is sabotage to the nation’s economy and very dangerous to the health of the people.

"We cannot sit down and see our people dying with all kinds of ailments."

According to the government, Africa's largest oil producer loses up to 150,000 barrels of crude oil every day to thieves who tap into pipelines crisscrossing the country's rivers and other southern states, with much of the haul ending up in informal refineries.

The stolen barrels are worth over $6.8 billion per year at current market prices.

According to other industry insiders, the magnitude of the thievery is even greater.

As the Nigerian Chief of Defense Staff said on Feb. 19, theft has led to "abysmal" oil production.

Government data shows that the country, which has a capacity of 2.5 million barrels a day, only made about 1.5 million barrels of crude equivalent a day in December, down from about 1.7 million barrels at the start of 2021.

Despite a small rise in January, Nigeria's performance still doesn't meet the quota set by OPEC+.

Thieves who get oil by stealing not only cut down on how much there is now, but they also make people less likely to invest in the future.

"It is clear that certain politicians are involved in the illicit trade.

"It’s also clear that some security agencies are involved, Wike said.

"The federal government run by President Muhammadu Buhari has failed to tackle oil theft, forcing Rivers state’s administration to act."

Spokesmen for the military, the presidency, and the ministry of petroleum resources didn't respond to calls for comment.


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