The Hague, Netherlands – The Nigerian government has created a US$1billion fund to prevent crude oil theft and vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure in the country.
President Goodluck Jonathan said on Sunday at a meeting in The Netherlands that a technical committee has already been set up to investigate how to implement the programme.
The measures will enhance security at oil pipelines and boost the capture and prosecution of oil thieves, Jonathan said. Oil theft in Nigeria is rife, and is regularly blamed for spills that have caused widespread environmental damage and frequently shut down operations.
Shell reported that it had found around 200 illegal connections to its pipelines last year. This followed a study by UK research group Chatham House that ‘’industrial scale’’ oil theft in the country was costing Nigeria around 100,000 bbl/d of production, equivalent to 5% of total output valued at US$5bn.
“Oil theft is an aspect of global terrorism, which has become a big industry on its own. It has become a major threat to the Nigerian economy and we need to work with all stakeholders to curb it. The thieves must be traced, apprehended and prosecuted,” Jonathan said.
He added that for the programme to succeed it would require maximum co-operation from major stakeholders in the oil industry, including The Netherlands where oil major Shell is headquartered.
Netherlands prime minster Mark Rutte assured Jonathan that the country is committed to concerted action against oil theft, Jonathan’s media adviser said in a statement.