Sunday, February 12, 2012

FG, oil firms and new challenges of oil theft

12 February 2012

A new narrative is emerging from the Niger Delta about the worsening environment challenges facing the oil producing communities. While the oil companies are largely nailed as culprits, new evidence from the region is suggesting a combination of illegal refineries, bunkering and pipeline vandalisation as the real threats.

Officials of government, who were normally silent on the issue, are now speaking up. Increasingly, facts are emerging proving that the nation is losing billions of dollars to oil bunkerers with the concomitant oil spillage which compound the environmental crisis. Even when the truth of bunkering is known in official circle for long, recent upheavals in the oil sector has forced official admission and consequent action to tame the menace.

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently confessed to the federal legislators that illegal refineries, pipeline vandalism and bunkering account for some of the reasons the nation‘s refineries are not fully operational.

As the Federal Government grapples with developmental issues in Niger Delta, the battle against oil thieves has also taken the center stage. The intricacies of actors in the criminal game appear to have strengthened the old argument of oil companies that criminality rather than negligence mainly accounts for environmental crisis in the Niger Delta.

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