By Godwin Haruna
A fresh initiative to curb the widespread oil theft in Nigeria known as ‚ÄòPublish What You Pump‚Äô was Wednesday inauguration by a coalition of civil society groups in the country
The advocacy campaign is aimed at filling the gap in the present initiative and the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) processes.
At the event in Port Harcourt¬† the Rivers State capital, which was graced by representatives of civil society groups, community-based organisations and the media, the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) said although the NEITI processes had been ongoing for nearly 12 years, it had largely failed to sanitise the nation’s petroleum sector or reduce the level of corruption as the country loses nearly 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day, costing the nation about $8 billion a year.
The initiative would require that institutions such as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR)¬† should set up appropriate guidelines for measuring oil and gas production as well as have the necessary tools to carry out their oversight functions.
In his presentation, ERA/FoEN Executive Director, Dr. Godwin Ojo, said the inauguration marked an important milestone in the national and global advocacy to ensure good governance, transparency and accountability in the oil and gas sector.
‚ÄúThe federal government is yet to properly account for the $ 600 billion accruing from oil sector in the last four decades.
“We believe that given the necessary political will and prioritisation, Nigeria can afford a National Basic Income Scheme (NaBIS) of about N15, 000 for all unemployed Nigerians if all the leaks, looting and theft of its resources are eliminated,‚Äù Ojo said.
He stated that the ‚ÄòPublish What You Pump‚Äô campaign drew attention to the crime scene of ecological devastation, ecocide and oil theft in the Niger Delta region, adding: ‚ÄúIt is time to hold oil companies and the presiding captains overseeing these rots and deaths corporately and personally accountable for the deaths and destruction they are helping to create.‚Äù
Ojo said the frequent oil spills and gas flaring had degraded the environment, destroyed livelihoods, led to human rights violations, violent conflicts, impoverishment and ecocide such that the Niger Delta region now ‚Äúlies prostrate on a stretcher and panting for breathe.‚Äù
According to him, the continued resistance of the oil companies to metering oil and gas at well heads, flow stations and the acquiescing of the regulatory agencies as well as other institutions of government could only point to collusion between the oil majors and government officials who benefit from the oil theft.
‚ÄúIndeed, in the sector, it is business as usual as the regulator has firmly become the regulated. During the recent Joint Senate Committee hearing on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), while the oil companies were advocating for metering of crude oil at the point of sale, civil society groups were advocating for metering at the point of production from the oil well heads, flow stations and export terminals,‚Äù he said.
ERA/FoEN executive director added that the core issue affecting the oil and gas industry was the failure and or refusal of operators in the industry and regulatory bodies to publicly disclose or engage available scientific templates for precise measurement of the volume of all oil and gas produced in Nigeria, and at the different stages of the production process.