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Nigeria’s Stolen Crude: Nuances of the Missing 48 Million Barrels Oil Investigation

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The Nigerian House of Representatives has set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the alleged illegal sale of 48 million barrels of Nigeria’s Bonny Light crude oil in China in 2015, as well as the insurance status of the cargo. The committee will also investigate all crude oil exports and sales by Nigeria from 2014 to date, including quantity, insurance, revenue generated, remittances into the Federation Account, and utilisation of revenue for the period under review. Additionally, the committee will investigate the level of compliance with the Whistle-Blowers Policy of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and all proceeds recovered through the policy. The committee is expected to report back within four weeks.The House has been informed that according to the whistle-blower, a committee consisting of prominent members of the government and NNPC, with whom he had meetings, investigated and verified the existence of the cargo. However, in October 2015, he found out that the cargo was being sold through unofficial channels, and despite their agreement to pay 5% of the cargo’s value in line with the whistle-blower policy, the committee eventually refused to do so.

During the opening of the ad hoc committee, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, expressed concern over the $2.4 billion revenue loss caused by the alleged illegal deals with China. He stated that Nigeria loses $700 million monthly to oil theft, which impacts negatively on the country’s national budget. Gbajabiamila also noted that the oil and gas sector remain the main contributor to Nigeria’s economy, accounting for 95% of foreign exchange earnings and 80% of annual budgeted revenue. However, he expressed doubt over the nation’s ability to meet its 2023 proposed daily oil production target of 1.69 million barrels due to the high level of oil theft.

According to Gbajabiamila, Nigeria is experiencing a loss of $700 million per month due to crude oil theft, which is adversely affecting the national budget. Furthermore, based on the available information, the country could lose up to $23 billion to oil theft this year. Between January and July of last year, Nigeria already lost $10 billion to this menace. It is quite unclear how it will affect the prices of AGO/MGO.

Source:  Oriental news, The cable, The Punch

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