The rampant oil theft that is forcing Shell out of the Niger Delta, indeed out of Nigeria is one critical embarrassment that has overwhelmed a Federal Government that has failed in all sectors of the country.
The petroleum sector remains the only sector footing the entire bills of the country, yet attention is not being given to protecting it from ceaseless sabotage.
Against law-abiding citizens engaged in legitimate peaceful protests, trigger-happy security operatives will swing into action to crush any peaceful protest.
The common man is driving his car on the road, Police will act to intimidate him, with all manner of contorted allegations and threats, to extort him.
But then assign security operatives to check oil theft, they get so connected in no time and begin to aid and abet the oil theft they are mobilised at an outrageous cost to the nation. So, the Military and Nigeria Security & Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) are as much connected to oil theft as the oil theft is connected to the host communities’ leaders, oil company workers and contractors responsible for welding/clamping/clean-up/remediation contracts induced by vandalism.
They vandalise pipes and valves to steal crude oil and condensate and the more these occur the more contracts are awarded for repairs/clamping of pipelines and clean-up/remediation activities. So, a lot of people are connected to oil theft beyond those who sell and buy the stolen condensate and crude oil.
The fight against oil theft has become a lost battle as they sabotage with a huge economic toll on the commonwealth will continue to thrive, hence Shell has decided to quit her Niger Delta operations to concentrate on the ‘deep sea offshore’ of the Niger Delta that illegal bunkering syndicates can’t access easily.
In other shades of oil theft, you have DPR staff that are supposed to keep records of production and volume exported also involved in under declaration of figures. A lot is happening behind the scene at the points of exports, in the terminals.
Even among key stakeholders like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Ministry of Petroleum Resources, NNPC and Accountant General of the Federation, it’s an annual drama of conflicting figures when they are subjected to probe and accountability on the revenue generated from oil, condensate and gas, given a particular time frame.
Again, the violent youths, also known as restive youths, created by Niger-Delta politicians are also there to disrupt the operations of Shell (SPDC) and other oil companies. Because politicians are not accessible immediately after they win elections and can only engage a few as personal aides thereafter, the rest are going about wreaking havoc on oil companies which they look up to as alternative governments.
What’s more, politicians and Public officeholders in the Niger Delta are only interested in the monthly allocations from Abuja from which they allocate outrageous portions into security votes that are never accounted for, contracts are inflated to syphon kickbacks into private vaults.
All of these stakeholders’ knaveries are making onshore operations so unattractive to Shell and other International Oil Companies(IOCs). And it’s not a good one if they have to leave.
By: Zik Gbemre