Every year, Nigeria loses about 40 million metric tonnes of petroleum products amounting to about $20 billion (N3 trillion) to crude oil theft and illegal bunkering, Mr Leke Oyewole, a Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Maritime Affairs has said.
Oyewole made this known in Lagos, on Sunday, in an interview on a Channels Television programme tagged ‘Sunday Business’.
He said the loss was sequel to sharp practices characterised by numerous leakages, adulteration of products, as well as diversion of refined imported products by some of the players in the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry.
The presidential aide, who stated further that the estimated loss was what obtained as of 2009, said diversion of petroleum products to neighbouring African countries by fuel importers amounted to a drain on the nation’s foreign exchange, adding that employment opportunities were being left to nationals of countries where fuel was being imported.
He pointed out that it was in order to put a stop to the revenue haemorr-hage arising from these leakages that President Goodluck Jonathan was resolute on the deregulation of the oil sector.
“Deregulation will allow investment in refineries, which will in turn create jobs in Nigeria and pave the way for export of products to other countries around us.
“Nigeria cannot claim to be poorer than Ghana or Chad where fuel is sold for about N170 per litre. Total removal of subsidy will enable the government to save more money for capital projects. Beyond that, it will minimise smuggling of the products across borders,” he said.
According to him, the porous nature of the country’s waterways also provided a lee way for unscrupulous importers to short-change government, by not paying duties to relevant government agencies.
“Our waterways are currently not so well monitored by the relevant maritime agencies. For instance, most of the vessels bringing products to Nigeria do not pay a dime to government, either though the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) or Customs. This constitutes serious revenue losses to the economy,” he added.
The presidential aide said although Customs had been told not to collect import duties from vessels coming into the country, its officials had the task of rummaging the vessels, adding that NIMASA and NPA ought to collaborate to address issues in the offshore operations in the oil industry and mitigate the insecurity arising therefrom.
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