Nigeria is losing nearly a fifth of its revenues to oil thieves, Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was quoted as saying in the pro-government daily This Day on Tuesday.
Oil companies say so called ‘bunkering’ — tapping into oil pipelines to steal the crude — and other forms of oil theft are on the rise in Nigeria, despite an amnesty that was meant to end a conflict there in 2009 over the distribution of oil wealth.
“Bunkering is an activity we have to stop,” Okonjo-Iweala was quoted as saying. “The (state oil firm) NNPC reported that 17 percent of oil production was lost in April, and this is about one fifth of revenue.”
Nigeria relies on oil for more than 95 percent of government revenues.
Nigeria’s biggest player Royal Dutch Shell has estimated that up to 150,000 barrels of crude are stolen from Nigeria each day, out of production of around 2 million.
The oil major said on Monday that its joint venture lost a minimum of 43,000 barrels a day (bpd) of crude oil to theft last year.
The 2009 amnesty sharply reduced militancy in the Niger Delta, a network of creeks and wetlands where the Niger river empties into the Atlantic, but bunkering has continued.