WHAT IS CRUDE OIL THEFT?
Crude oil theft may refer to any activity relating to the theft or sabotage of crude oil, facilities or installations in form of illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism, fuel scooping, illegal refining and transport and oil terrorism. Illegal oil bunkering is the most commonly known form of oil theft and it involves direct tapping of oil. Though oil bunkering is a necessity for maritime shipping within the maritime sector, it becomes an illegal oil bunkering when it is carried out without requisite statutory licenses or valid documents, or in violation of the Nigerian Maritime Sector and the guidelines made by the statutory institutions regarding it
THE ROLE OF THE NIGERIAN NAVY
The Nigerian Navy has it as its core mandate to protect the Nigerian Maritime Environment and rid it of all forms of illegal activities especially as it relates to crude oil theft and oil bunkering. We are backed to perform our duties by the articles of Section 1 of the Armed Forces Act, 1993 States as follows;
“Notwithstanding the generality of the provisions of subsection  of this section -
(a) The Navy shall, in particular be further charged with…..
(i) Enforcing and assisting in co-ordinating the enforcement of all custom laws, including anti-bunkering, fishery and immigration laws of Nigeria at sea
(ii) Enforcing and assisting in co-ordinating the enforcement of national and international maritime laws ascribed or acceded to by Nigeria
IMPACT OF CRUDE OIL THEFT
Nigeria Produces about two million barrels of crude oil per day going by her Approved Quota from the Organization, and while there are no facts available amounts reaching up to 200,000 barrels of per day is being speculated as being lost to Oil Theft. This accounts for estimates that Nigeria loses $20bn yearly which could have Provided Massive Infrastructure, Employment and Provide Social Amenities like Clean Water, Basic Healthcare and Schools and Stronger Cash Reserves needed to finance development in the country.
Among the many factors responsible for the Degradation of the Environment include oil spillage resulting from oil theft especially the hacking of pipelines and the activities of illegal refineries which is responsible for the uncontrolled emission of Carbon into the atmosphere. Sabotage and Crude oil theft according to a report is responsible for a large percentage of Oil Spills. Oil Spills result in Ground Water Poisoning, Destruction of Agricultural Land, Fishery and Livestock and fast Disappearing Mangrove Forests.
Crude Oil theft and militancy constitutes a major inhibitor to the socioeconomic development of the Niger-delta. As a result the responsibility towards the area has been largely neglected by administrations, organizations and companies. Another worrisome trend is the increasing percentages of school aged children who are denied of formal education and aspiration by the various militant groups who see them as potential recruits for their illegal trade thus initiating them into a criminal lifestyle characterized by violence and restiveness, teenage parenthood and anti-societal tendencies.
Crude Oil theft largely contributes to the deteriorating health conditions prevalent in the Niger Delta region of the Country. It is reported that Liquid, Solid Waste and Residues from Dumps which are not properly disposed or treated causes Contamination of Domestic Water Supplies which is responsible for a host of known diseases in this region such as Malaria and Diarrhea while respiratory diseases which constitute another percentage of the diseases in this area can be attributed to uncontrolled emissions and flaring.
As the International spotlight beams on Nigeria due to the various activities of Crude Oil theft and Illegal Bunkering. Our government is being challenged to protect the credibility and reputation with other nations and multinational groups thus threatening Foreign Direct Investment into the various sectors of the economy. These activities constitute a threat to National Security as perhaps a greater percentage of this illegal oil trade is being organized and controlled by Warlords who in turn result to arms trading and alliances with criminal organizations to guaranty supplies and protection for their local gangs.
FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR CRUDE OIL THEFT
SOLUTIONS TO CRUDE OIL THEFT