New Nigeria group to combat oil theft
Johannesburg, 23 October (Argus) - A Nigerian-based civil rights group called Stop the Theft has been set up to campaign against the theft of oil from the Niger delta.
The group is run by Patrick Cole, an international relations adviser to former president Olesegun Obasanjo. Cole is from the Niger delta region. Stop the Theft intends to raise awareness about the scale and consequences of the illegal theft of oil in the delta and advocate long term and tangible solutions to the problem.
Nigeria is losing around 180,000 b/d to theft, costing the government an estimated $7bn a year in lost revenue, the group said, adding that increasing oil theft not only prevents the federal and state governments from maximising revenues but also threatens the ability of the country to finance its annual budget.
“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,” Stop the Theft said. “The impact is also felt far beyond Nigeria's shores, in the form of sophisticated criminal networks,” it said.
Oil theft was "a competitive and ultimately violent lucrative trade" in which communities and armed gangs often fight over the proceeds, or territory. Proceeds from oil theft are also a key source of funding that support armed groups, allowing them to buy weapons and ammunition, it said. "Stolen oil is actively traded for arms at the point of transfer."
Shell yesterday was forced to declare force majeure on exports of Bonny and Forcados crude because of criminal activities on key pipelines.
The firm has previously urged the Abuja government to take firmer action against criminal activity in the delta.
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