The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) says it has discovered an illegal connection line into the sea from one of its major oil export terminals that had functioned completely unnoticed for nine years.
NNPC CEO Mele Kyari disclosed this late Tuesday while appearing before a joint senate committee on upstream, downstream, and gas, according to Reuters.
Although oil theft has been occurring in Nigeria for over 22 years, Mr Kyari declared that the rate at which it has recently increased was astounding.
He claimed that during a crackdown on theft in the previous six weeks, a four-kilometre (2.5-mile) connection from the Forcados export terminal into the sea, exporting about 250,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), was uncovered.
“Oil theft in the country has been going on for over 22 years, but the dimension and rate it assumed in recent times is unprecedented,” Mr Kyari said.
According to the NNPC boss, oil theft costs Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil exporter, 600,000 barrels per day in lost revenue. He added that oil companies idle some fields rather than supply pipelines used by thieves.
An illegal line in the ocean is unusual, suggesting a more sophisticated theft operation than the land-based pipelines thieves frequently use to siphon oil.
Since a sub-sea hose leak was discovered at the terminal on July 17, loading at the Forcados terminal has been halted.
In March, Heirs Holding chair Tony Elumelu said Nigeria was losing 95 per cent of its crude oil to looters under the President Muhammadu Buhari regime.
Mr Elumelu lamented that Bonny Terminal should receive 200,000 barrels of crude oil instead of the 3,000 barrels it gets daily.