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Federal Government Moved To Check Illegal Crude Oil Bunkering
Government Moved To Check Illegal Crude Oil Bunkering
The Federal Government Tuesday Moved to Check Illegal Crude Oil Bunkering and importation of contraband goods through the nation’s porous waterways.
The move is coming on a day the Federal Government also said it had taken a more proactive step to stem the escalating theft of the nation’s Crude as the newly drafted Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would provide for the establishment of a Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to maintain surveillance on critical Oil and gas installations, premises and vessels.
But in achieving the move to Check the Illegal bunkering, the Federal Government announced that it had set up an Inter-Agency Maritime Operations Coordination Committee (IMOCC) to coordinate operations of all maritime agencies in the country.
The body, which was inaugurated by Vice-President Namadi Sambo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, was also charged with proffering solutions to non-compliance with domesticated international conventions, failure to implement local content and cabotage laws of the country and design a framework for collaboration of Government agencies in the maritime sector.
A statement by the Special Adviser to Sambo on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Umar Sani, said the inauguration of the committee was at the instance of President Goodluck Jonathan and was aimed at ensuring a comprehensive security of the maritime sector of the country.
Sambo lamented that the lack of synergy among agencies vested with the security of the maritime sector of the country had led to gaps, which criminal elements exploited to perpetrate Illegal activities.
Speaking earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Rear Admiral Ogbo, assured Sambo that they would deal with their duty with utmost urgency, while members would bring their different experiences to bear on the job.
Other members of the Committee include: Mr. M.S Nagogo; Mr. Buhari Bello; Mrs. O.O Moore; Air Comdr. Jalingo Atiku; ACP Friday Ibadin; Mr. Shehu Ahmed; Mr E. I. Edorhe; Comptroller Kevin Vongman; Mr. Philip Chukwu; Capt. Warrendi Enisuoh; Jamil Muktar Tahir; and Mr. O.O Balogun.
Meanwhile, the PIB which would be presented to the National Assembly soon, if signed into law, would also empower the SIU to arrest and prosecute those who indulge in Illegal petroleum operations in the country.
A recent statistics released by the Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, showed that an estimated 180,000 barrels of Oil equivalent daily or approximately $7 billion yearly is lost to Oil theft. The Federal Government had last month announced the setting up of a joint task force in an urgent move to secure the country’s Oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta region.
Under the latest draft bill obtained by THISDAY, the SIU, to be created by the Nigerian Petroleum Inspectorate (NPI), successor to the assets and liabilities of the Petroleum Inspectorate of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); the Department of Petroleum Resources and the Petroleum Pricing Products Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) would have the power to seize any item or substance reasonably believed to have been used in the commission of an offence.
An estimated 180,000 barrels of Oil equivalent daily or approximately $7 billion yearly is lost to Oil theft, according to a recent statistics released by the Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke. Concerned about the ugly development, Federal Government, last month announced the setting up of a joint task force in an urgent move to secure the country’s Oil and gas assets in the Niger Delta region.
A copy of the newly drafted bill obtained by THISDAY provided that the SIU has powers to arrest and prosecute all those who indulge in Illegal Oil and gas operations in the country. The investigation unit, according to the bill will work in collaboration with other Government agencies to tackle illicit Oil deals.
The House of Representatives Committee (Downstream), a fortnight ago, had raised the alarm over the current spate of vandalism of Oil and gas facilities, stating that the issue had grave consequences on the nation’s economy.
A source at the petroleum minister explained yesterday that the establishment of the SIU was to ensure effective function of the Inspectorate, in line with the much awaited reforms of the Nigerian petroleum industry.
The source clarified: “The establishment of the SIU will help the NPI in its functions. But, the draft bill makes it clear that the investigation unit shall first obtain a warrant from the Federal High Court before entering any premises to conduct search or impounding any instrument suspected to have been used for Illegal Oil and gas operations.”
The new draft of the PIB states: “The SIU will arrest any person whom it reasonably believes to have committed an offence in respect of matters under the authority of the Inspectorate; and seize any item or substance, which it reasonably believes to have been used in the commission of an offence.”
It added: “The SIU will maintain surveillance on Oil and gas installations, premises and vessels where it has reason to believe that Illegal petroleum operations are going on and will have power to search, seize, detain and recommend for prosecution, any person suspected to have engaged or be engaged in Illegal activities in relation to petroleum or any petroleum product or in relation to any provision of this Act or any other enactment administered or enforced by the Inspectorate.”
Under the new bill, the Inspectorate, will among other duties, administer and enforce policies, laws and regulations relating to all aspects of upstream, midstream and downstream petroleum operations. The Inspectorate, which will serve as the highest decision making body is to ensure and enforce compliance with the terms and conditions of all Oil licences, leases, permits and authorisations issued in respect of petroleum operations.
The delay in the passage of the bill, which industry experts described as the framework for effective and profitable operation in Nigeria’s Oil and gas sector, was said to have cost the country billions of dollars in terms of potential investments in the sector.
Federal Government Moved To Check Illegal Crude Oil Bunkering
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