The Managing Director of Shell Production and Development Company, Mutitu Sunmonu, has blamed the incessant theft of crude oil from the Niger Delta on a well organized international crime syndicate.
In a report title “Shell Briefing Notes” recently released by the oil major, he disclosed some of the activities and events that led the company to make this disclosure.
The report states, “The scale of these operations is not hidden. The perpetrators of these crimes have set up barge building yards and storage depots for the stolen crude. This is not petty theft undertaken by desperate individuals struggling to make a living.
“These are well-funded crimes that may be connected with an international syndicate. Our concern is that if this business continues at this rate, the effects could be devastating, not only to the social and environmental structure of many areas of the Niger Delta, but also on Nigeria’s economy.”
It added, “These, almost certainly, represent a small fraction of the true scale of the problem. In early 2006, a series of attacks forced SPDC to shut down most of its operations in the western delta. As a result of these and other attacks, Nigeria has lost a substantial amount of its oil production.
“In September 2007, SPDC began restarting its western delta operations. Work is ongoing, though security problems continue. The threat to people working in oil and gas operations in the delta remains high.”
The report stated that over 150,000 barrels of crude are stolen from the Niger Delta on a daily basis. Some of the crude is stored in storage depots, some is refined right there in the region and some of it is evacuated for sale on the international black market.
Speaking on the quantity stolen, Sunomnu added, ““This is a huge amount and the effects of this industrial scale theft are devastating for both the people and the environment. This is evident from the thick smoke from illegal refineries that line the shore. The land, the shorelines and the water are heavily polluted with oil as a result of these activities.”