Mr. Sunmonu, who spoke at the ongoing Nigeria Oil & Gas, NOG 2013 Exhibition and Conference, compared the stolen crude business to the drug business that had couriers, small dealers, and sponsors.
The Shell boss said that though it is commendable for Nigeria to take the initiative to discuss with foreign countries suspected to hold the proceed from the sale of stolen crude oil, the problem can be easily solved if the sponsors are found out and dealt with.
He said like drug business all over the world, the small criminals who sabotage crude oil pipelines in the Niger Delta are only working for bigger entities that should be found out and dealt with.
“The truth is that the small (criminals) in the creeks of Niger Delta bursting pipelines and stealing crude oil are not working for themselves. Like the drug cartels around the world, they are being sponsored by big principalities and powers in high places, which the government should go against if the fight against crude oil theft is to be won,” he said.
He said efforts should be made by all stakeholders to tackle the problem of poverty among the people, pointing out if this is taken care of, the problem would have been half solved, as the perpetrators would not have any reason to allow themselves be used to steal the country’s commonwealth.
Mr. Sunmonu said Shell and other International Oil Companies operating in Nigeria have had their pipelines sabotaged by crude oil dealers on several occasions. The oil companies have privately and publicly blamed the government for its failure to provide security for the pipelines despite the fact that they pay all the charges and taxes the government asks of them.
Stolen crude has reduced
The Group Executive Director, Exploration & Production, of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Abiye Membere, said the country was initially losing an average of 180,000 barrels of crude oil daily to illegal bunkering and other sabotage activities.
According to Mr. Membere, the various intervention strategies of government have only succeeded in reducing the loss to between 50,000 and 80,000 barrels per day at the moment.
Nigeria is estimated to lose $6 billion (N900 billion) annually to crude oil theft.
Mr. Membere said the federal government is committed to seeing the problem stamped out completely with the resolve to go after countries suspected to be harbouring the proceeds from the sale of the stolen crude from Nigeria.
On Tuesday, the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke said President Goodluck Jonathan is worried about the rate of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta and is determined to put a stop to the act. She explained that the matter was one of the issues the Nigerian President discussed with his British and French counterparts in his last trip to the two countries.