According to the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Nigeria lost over 1.8trillion naira to oil theft, deliberate sabotage and pipeline vandalism between 2009 and 2011.
“The truth is that the figures being presented either by the oil industry, oil companies, by the minister of finance, cannot really be confirmed because Nigeria does not have a way of actually verifying how much crude oil is being extracted on a daily basis,” Environmental Rights Action executive director Nnimmo Bassey told CNBC Africa.
“If you don’t know how much crude oil is being extracted, you cannot tell me how much is spilling into the environment, how much is stolen or how much is lost by any other means, so that is just a speculation. But the truth is that it does give an indication of the very serious problem that oil theft has been in Nigeria.”
Oil theft and vandalism, according to Bassey, has intensified over the past four to five years but was always a recurring problem for Nigeria.
Oil theft and bunkering is however done on an industrial rather than small scale, and is cases sold to international and local markets.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Ministry of Petroleum Resources (MPR) are the two sources of petroleum statistics in Nigeria. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is the major international source.
“Nigeria is suffering for it. It causes massive environmental pollution, massive loss of revenue and of course it destroys the social fabric,” Bassey explained.
The theft and bunkering has also had an environmental impact, which a number of oil companies have not admitted to.
According to World Oil, Nigeria is reportedly losing an estimated 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day because of oil its oil theft crisis. Nigeria is the sixth largest oil-producing country in the world.
“The government of Nigeria needs to look at the basic roots of this crisis. The government has a step up, they’ve shown indication that they want to stop this. You have to have a conversation with community by civil leaders,” said Bassey.