Wike vows to combat the $7 billion oil theft costing the country billions in lost revenue and lives?   

11 March 2022: The Governor of Rivers State has declared a total war against the rampant oil theft and illegal refining which is causing the country to not only lose billions in lost revenue but also contributing to “abysmally low” oil production in the country. If that isn’t enough, it is making the environmental pollution so much more worse, causing death of its people from all kinds of ailments.

The pilfered crude is turned into gasoline, diesel and kerosene in makeshift refineries that have multiplied in the facade provided by the creeks and forests of the Niger Delta region. “It is sabotage to the nation’s economy and very dangerous to the health of the people,” Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers state, said in an interview. “We cannot sit down and see our people dying with all kinds of ailments,” he said in Port Harcourt, the state capital. 

Nigeria loses as many as 150,000 barrels of crude per day to these bandits who stealthily tap into the pipelines crisscrossing Rivers and other southern states, with much of the haul ending up at the informal refineries. At current prices, the missing barrels are worth almost $6.8 billion a year. Some industry figure seem to think the scale of the stealing is more vast and the figures are much higher. Due to this a country which has a capacity of 

Nigerian Chief of Defense Staff Lucky Irabor said on Feb. 19. The country, with a capacity of 2.5 million barrels a day, only produced about 1.5 million barrels a day of crude equivalent in December, down from around 1.7 million barrels at the start of 2021, according to government data. Despite trying so hard to increase production due to global pressure, production levels are still below the quota set by OPEC+ for Nigeria. Oil theft not only destroys current output and but also discourages any investment in future production.

International companies including Shell Plc and Chevron Corp. have been selling onshore and shallow water permits to local producers such as Seplat Energy Plc and Heirs Oil & Gas Ltd.for more than a decade now, with the purpose of reducing their exposure to regular disruptions.

“It is clear that certain politicians are involved” in the illicit trade said Wike, who is a leading member of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party. “It’s also clear that some security agencies are involved,” he said.Wike feels that the federal government run by President Muhammadu Buhari has been unable to handle this growing problem and hence Rivers state’s administration has had to intervene, the governor said.

Port Harcourt has been suffering from some serious air pollution due to “ black soot” which is caused by the manufacturing and consumption of products from the numerous refineries.

“If you don’t destroy the heart of the activity, which is the illegal refining centers, then the crude will continue to be cooked and the soot will still be in the air,” Samuel Nwanosike, chairman of the Ikwerre local government area in Rivers state, said during a tour of disabled sites.

Having enlisted the assistance of the Nigerian military, task forces created by Wike began dismantling refineries in January, so far they have successfully destroyed at least 428 ovens used for “cooking” crude. In the four weeks to Feb. 24, the armed forces also excavated 85 pipes that were “illegally connected to pipelines,” according to a military statement.

Two men in the refining business said Wike’s campaign has interfered with their operations but they are determined to not stop their operation but only put it on hold for the time being. They plan to resume their former activities when possible, they blame their crimes on the unavailability of decent jobs with comparable incomes.

“Even if there’s a lack of jobs because of the economic policies of the ruling party, should I allow crime to take place?” Wike said. “No, certainly not.”

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