Oil: Theft, scarcity over or endless? — Femi Adeoti Column




It is always sad. Actually disheartening to discuss Nigeria. Honestly,
it can be repulsive. No aspect of our lives is spared. Disgusting!
We have been a colossal disaster as an existence. All areas of our
collective life are a monumental failure. That peaked astronomically
in the last seven years. The result is what we have on our fragile
hands today.
And we don’t know how to handle it. We are in a funny clime. You can’t
ignore us. Yet, we are dangerous to be tolerated. Accept us to your
peril. Throw us away at your great risk.
Sweep our strengths and weaknesses under the carpet? You can’t be too
careless. You dare not gloss over them recklessly either.
That’s the hard stuff we are made of. The strange way we’re wired;
weirdly and wildly. Sad. We are not easy to come by. You find it hard
to find our replica.
But we must keep discussing ourselves. We are rich in queer character
and eerie intentions. Real reason nothing shocks us anymore. We are
quite at home with oddities.
Perhaps, that accurately informed the Nigeria Extractive Industries
Transparency Initiative (NEITI). It strived to call us to order. It
dug deep into the archives. And what it unearthed was out of this
NEITI was emphatic. It neither minced nor mixed words: “Oil theft has
robbed the country of a whopping N16.2trillion in revenue between 2009
and 2020.”
It insisted: “Oil theft has assumed a frightening dimension in recent
times.” Not only that, it has “wreaked monumental havoc in oil
production and the country’s revenue generation.”
How did it come about this? Its explanation: “This information and
data were provided by an average of eight companies audited over the
Ordinarily, this should throw any sane mind off balance. Not us. We
simply took it as given. We have developed a thick skin for the wrong
Bala Wunti came calling earlier. He had a field day on Arise TV News.
It was one of his best moments. He saw the rare opportunity. And he
made the maximum use of it. Who would not?
He’s Chief Upstream Investment Officer, National Petroleum Investment
Management Services (NAPIMS). It’s a subsidiary of the Nigerian
National Petroleum Company Ltd. He read NEITI’s mind accurately.
He spoke days ahead of the agency’s damning disclosure. He perceived
the situation differently. The impression Wunti gave was inspiring. He
proudly beat his chest: “We’ve succeeded in stopping crude oil theft.”
His proof: “Crude oil production has increased to 1.59 million barrels
per day from the 1.1 million it was in August (2022).” Are we out of
the woods? Is the oil theft over?
No! Certainly not yet Uhuru. We’re still losing huge amounts of money.
We’re not there yet. Wunti admitted: “At the NNPC, based on all the
calculations that we do, we are losing an average of 700,000 barrels”
per day.
We have a grim situation staring us in the face. The budget is
precariously hinged on 1.88 million barrels per day. A graphic
breakdown is frightening:
“If we recorded about 1mbpd in August, the difference between 1.8mbpd
and 1mbpd is what we are losing and that is what the treasury sees.
“I think where people get it messed up is whether the 700,000bpd or
800,000bpd is being stolen or is opportunity loss, and that is where
the discrepancy comes in.” What then is the correct situation?
Wunti: “From our records, before we recovered, we were losing
700,000bpd, translating to 21 million barrels per month. If you
consider an average price of this year at $90 per barrel that
translates somewhere around $1.8 billion or $1.9 billion losses that
we suffered.”
He agreed to some security lapses. There are still glaring loopholes.
The leakages are depleting the revenue. It eats deep into our porous
Forcados, Brass and Bonny terminals remain no-go areas. NNPC can’t
risk that for now: “And why were we not able to deliver crude to those
terminals? It was simply because of the security vulnerability.
“As I speak, Brass is in force majeure, Bonny is in force majeure.
That is about 300,000 barrels deferred already.” That’s huge. Still
Wunti remained incurably optimistic. Their “success story” excited him
and he flaunted it: “We have been working hard with the private
security contractor to return the Trans-Niger Pipeline.
“We have succeeded to some extent.” He was honest enough to quickly
admit:  “But we are not where we want to be. We are hoping we will
open Bonny very soon.
“The security situation is now restored, together with certain
activities that have been carried out to revamp what we see in
Forcados. Forcados is back producing. Bonny will soon be back.”
He was not done yet: “But the question as to whether there is
stealing, I think it is not in contention.” Official admittance!
Who are the thieves? We would want to know. Wunti neither denied nor
obliged us: “As to who and who, you will be shocked that there are a
lot of people. The security agencies have the power to announce (their
names). They will do the announcement.”
What do we make out of that? Absolute confusion! Let them name the
names. In this our sordid arrangement, President Muhammadu Buhari is
Minister of Petroleum Resources. Then what the hell are we talking
The fuel crisis continues to bite harder. The scarcity is both
hopeless and endless. Petrol is speedily drying up, especially in
Lagos and Abuja. It is hard to come by. Yet motorists queue in
unending pain. No respite envisaged.
This equally exposed these aspiring leaders. Their wickedness is
manifesting by the seconds. They don’t care to care.
None is paying serious attention to our plight. They feign ignorance
of our predicaments. They fail to accord the energy crisis the
deserved intentness. The fuel scarcity is grossly ignored.
Frivolities are taking the better parts of the presidential
contestants. They’re not addressing our issues. They fritter time and
energy on the mundane. They squander resources on trivialities.
In other sane lands, this fuel scarcity would determine the outcome of
any election. In fact, it is the main issue. It’s enough for a
government to lose power. In such societies, you don’t underplay such
serious failure.
Perhaps! This clarification is germane at this juncture. At any given
moment, everything revolves round the government of the day. It’s
What happens or does not happen hangs on that government, regime or
junta. It is on the neck of the leadership. Leaders are held
And the last seven odd years can’t be an exception. As it was in the
beginning, so it is forever. This can’t be subject to change. That
will be a fake mantra.
It happened to ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and
Goodluck Jonathan. It’s happening to Buhari. And must continue to
happen when Buhari departs from our lives.
So? There are no haters of Buhari anywhere! It was in the same manner
they treated those before him. They were criticised. We never heard of
hate or hatred then. It’s nothing new, nothing strange.
Criticism is the ultimate cross of leadership. Leaders must live with
it. It is universal. We have to get the understanding appropriately.
Leaders must be interrogated. They are not perfect. No mortal is. Only
God is. We are the works of His hands, His creations. We can never be
perfect. Why? We ate the biblical forbidden fruit.
Is the oil theft over or endless? Is there reprieve on fuel scarcity?
The search continues endlessly.
Pity! The harder we explore, probe, the messier it becomes!

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