A SUPERTANKER OF SUPER OIL THIEVES

Since Nigeria stumbled on the black gold in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State in 1956, its journey as an oil-producing country has brought with it the clarity that it would either sink or swim in its oil. The journey to becoming a mono-product economy has been a slow and difficult one as the Giant of Africa has watched practically every other sector of its economy fold as oil has become the centre of all its attention.

 But with this focus has come a steep cost. As oil has taken over the conversation, other sectors have shrunk, bringing other vices to the fore.

 Nigeria boasts about 37 billion barrel of crude oil, over 206.53 trillion  cubic feet of gas reserves, and the capacity to produce about 2.4  million barrels of oil daily and eight  billion cubic feet gas; over 5,779 oil wells, 9,717km of pipelines, 112 flow stations, 16 gas plants, and 126 production platforms offshore.

 According to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Nigeria`s crude oil production averaged 1.238m barrels per day (bpd) in June 2022.

Nigeria is the largest oil and gas producer in Africa. Oil is very much at the at the heart of the economy. However, years of oil exploration have only brought more problems than solutions to the country, and more questions than answers.

 It is not just that oil has fueled rampaging corruption, with the petrodollars pouring into the country giving thieving public officers something to keep their sticky fingers working, oil has given many criminal syndicates enough to keep their greed grinding.

 On the night of Wednesday August 17 2022, the Nigerian Navy (NN) confirmed the arrest of a supertanker, MV HEROIC IDUN by Equatorial Guinea forces over allleged crude oil theft in Nigeria.

 The tanker was allegedly arrested by the Central African country after it fled from Nigeria`s AKPO Oil Field when its activities were uncovered by the operatives of the Nigerian Navy.

 The supertanker said to have a capacity for three million barrels of oil, about three times the one million barrels per day (bpd) currently being produced by Nigeria, had 16 Indians, eight Sri Lankans, and one crew member each from the Philippines and Poland.

 While the Nigerian Navy must be commended for the heroic efforts they continue to put into patrolling Nigeria`s territorial waters and keeping same free of criminals and their criminal activities, the arrest of the vessel strips bare the monster Nigeria must confront if it is to enjoy the full fruits of what is arguably nature`s premium gifts.

  Every day, Nigerians are brought to a juddering realisation of just how impossible the large-scale and organised oil theft is foisting on Nigerians. Every day, it is said that Nigeria loses about $40m to oil theft. It has also been whispered for long that many high-profile individuals who have their hand soiled by the dirty oil business are not unknown to the federal government. They must be brought to book for what is a monumental heist.

  Again, it is heartwarming that the Nigerian Navy has moved to prosecute some of its personnel who have been found to have collaborated with the crude oil thieves in the country.

 Crude oil theft in Nigeria remains a heinous crime, one which is committed against Nigerians as a whole, but especially against the people of the oil producing areas who continue to pay through their noses for Nigeria to stay afloat.

 It is a crime Nigeria must check. All those who participate or benefit therefrom must be made to account for their actions.

Kene Obiezu,

Twitter: @kenobiezu

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