Oil Theft: NGO Launches Stop the Theft campaign
Lagos October 22nd 2012: Stop the Theft, an international campaign to end the theft of crude oil from the Niger Delta was launched today. Up to 180,000 barrels are believed to be stolen daily, according to some company reports. The impact of this theft is devastating for local communities, where fatalities and environmental pollution are commonplace consequences. The impact is also felt far beyond Nigeria’s shores, in the form of sophisticated criminal networks.
“The theft of oil from the Delta region must be addressed to restore stability and bring development to the region. Ending this scourge requires both local and global solutions” said Ambassador Dr Patrick Dele Cole, who is leading the campaign and is an indigene of Abonemma, in Rivers State in the Niger Delta. “I have watched the Niger Delta become the social and environmental catastrophe that it is today over many years and I do not believe we can achieve progress towards a long term solution without first dealing with the theft of oil. It is too closely integrated with the wider development issues.”
The Nigerian government has expressed its determination to combat the issue, with President Jonathan saying: “We will be decisive in putting an end to this malaise” and calling on government agencies to work together to help eradicate it.
The Stop the Theft campaign believes that a solution to the problem of oil theft can only be found by taking a holistic approach to the issues across the value chain of the illicit trade. From the poverty and disenfranchisement that creates an army of willing participants, to the corruption that enables and is fed by it, and the international market that ultimately consumes the crude. Stolen oil is used by local illegal refining operations, with significant environmental consequences, while the vast majority is sold to international refineries at discounted prices and retailed at petrol pumps on high streets and highways across the world.
“One of the core obstacles to progress in the fight against oil theft is regular and reliable data about the scale of the problem. Accurate figures for Nigeria’s oil production are difficult to obtain and so understanding the potential size of the problem, which we believe could be much larger than currently estimated, is challenging. At the same time, innovative solutions are required to address the problem. One of the primary short term objectives of the campaign is to understand how existing legislative frameworks and technologies, including satellite monitoring and chemical tagging, can be applied to the problem” said Dr Cole.
“We need to recognize the scale and sophistication of this industry and build a road map that includes all stakeholders. This issue cannot be solved by one party alone. This campaign belongs to all of us. From the communities that live with the pipelines in their midst to the end user who consumes the processed product. We all have a stake in ending this illicit trade.”
Stop the Theft has a website www.stopthetheftng.com which provides an overview of the problem and will showcase developments as they occur, as well as the work being done to develop and apply solutions. You can follow the Stop the Theft campaign on twitter as well through @stopthetheftng.
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