…Says Tony Elumelu can’t speak for the industry
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Slyva, has said that Nigeria’s crude oil production would in no distant future hit 1.7 million barrels per day, stating that production is coming up gradually, while adding that the country is currently on 1.4million barrels per day.
The minister, who was interviewed on a Channels Television’s programme, ‘Eagle Eye’, spoke on sundry issues in the Oil and Gas Industry, including crude oil theft.
He described crude oil theft as a metamorphosis of a crime that started initially with militancy because there were agitations in the Niger Delta, and people took to the forest and started sabotaging pipelines and kidnapping.
“In 2003, the government offered amnesty to them. They all came back and got integrated. Now, why I said it is a metamorphosis was that, when these thieves were brought from the forest to the city, already then, we knew that there would be other problems that could come from this action of the government. Since then, a lot of them have been trained by the amnesty programme. But some of them instead of taking gainful employment have resulted in going back again to another form of crime in the same sector. As you know, it is not the creation of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, crude oil theft has been with us for a long time, and no administration has really dealt with it,” he said.
The minister alleged that some people even sympathised with the crude oil thieves by telling them how they can take advantage of the resource in their area. He said since then it has grown. At this point, however, he said, the crime is no longer sustainable.
The country, he said, is losing a lot of its production and the Buhari’s administration has decided that stopping this act would be one of the legacies it would leave behind.
On the alleged collaborations between the crude oil thieves and some bad eggs within the Nigerian Navy, he said, there are collaborators, stating further that even during militancy the issue of collaborators within the military was a problem and because of this there was a problem dealing with these culprits, and sanity could not be restored in the oil region.
He said: “If you have a crime that has been sustained for this long, and with a Joint Task Force in place to exterminate it and it has gone worse, then certainly there are collaborators. The JTF or whoever is there is probably not doing his job. But at this time, the Federal Government has given a lot of warning, and there would be other layers on top of those who are actually operating to ensure monitor. If you send people to check crime and you leave them on their own, in many cases they become part of the crime.”
Responding to a question on Tony Elumelu’s alleged 90 percent of the country’s crude oil being stolen, the Minister said: I read Tony’s Twitter message, but he does not have the overall view of the industry. His is pumping his production into one particular pipeline, the TNP line, which is one of the majorly impacted pipelines. There are other pipelines that are not as impacted as TNP. So, he was speaking from his own perspective, he is not in a position to speak for the industry. If he says 90 percent of his production, I understand, but it is a small production compared to national production. That figure does not apply to the whole country.”
He said, however, he cannot say how much crude Nigeria is losing because the figure is not constant.
On reduction of the nation’s crude oil production, he said:
“It is a sad thing for me to discuss. Many things are responsible for crude oil reduction. It is not just one factor. Before the pandemic, the country was doing about two million barrels and we were meeting up to our OPEC quota. The discussion then was about how to reduce our production.
“Why I said it is a combination of many factors, you know the oil of today, is the investment of yesterday. For a long time, there has not been investment in the sector because a lot of people took a sit down look approach, because of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB ). Because of the delay in the bill, people were not sure of what the fiscal or legal framework would be after the passage of the law. So, a lot of oil companies were not doing new investments and it cut up with us this time. Now that it has become an Act we getting the effect of the lack of investment in the past. So these are some of the issues we would normally have.”
He said the other issue was the OPEC quota, Nigeria had to cut her production quota. “In trying to cut 200,000 barrels, you might shut down 300 barrels, because the production is not really mathematical. After cutting, to bring back the production is not easy.”