In what appears to be like respite for the oil industry, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, on Tuesday, revealed that the Federal Government has begun tracking of Nigeria’s crude oil production to ensure the challenge of product theft was addressed.
He said the tracking project, which involves electronically monitoring vessels lifting oil in Nigeria, was being carried out in conjunction with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Kachikwu who made the revelation at the ongoing Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, (NIPS) in Abuja, said the tracking programme would be extended to the downstream sector, to determine the volume of petrol imported into the country; the quantity of products brought in by each vessel; the depots the commodity are stored up to the points of retail to motorists.
He assured that the Federal Government has acquired sufficient human and material capacity to closely monitor vessels operating in Nigeria, stressing that lots of irregularities in the oil lifting business have been observed and that necessary actions were being taken to address them
The Minister noted that the data on their activities from movement of vessels would help determine the various loading points of the vessels, the deadweight of the vessels and the volume of crude oil lifted from the country by the vessels. He said: “For the first time, we know what we are producing in this country. As to when it is being produced, barrel to barrel, we can tell. We can see even vessels that are coming into Nigeria and their activities. We have seen some vessels go to a location and pick some cargoes, leave that point, go to another point pick something else and return to the first location, when they should be heading to Port Novo or the United States.
“What we are trying to do with the EFCC is to gather data and track these vessels, to determine the owners, why did they leave this point, what happened along the way, what is the dead weight of the vessels at the time they were leaving Nigeria and many more.
“So for the first time, we are going to soon be able to tell on a day-by-day basis all the activities that took place in the sector and those of the players. We are even going to extend it to the downstream.”
Petroleum industry doesn’t lack policies, but implementation. In another session, the panelists made of experts and a member of the legislature, identified lack of implementation of key policies and lack of transparency among others, as issues hindering investment and development of the oil and gas industry.
A member of the panelist, Mr. Sergius Ogun, Member of the Federal House of Representatives, representing Esan North East/South East Federal Constituency of Edo State, lamented the huge interference of government in the petroleum industry.
According to him, the petroleum industry does not lack policies, but was limited on implementation, adding that government hold in the sector was too great and worrisome.