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"Tankers Caught Stealing The Country’s Wealth Should Be Completely Destroyed"- NOSDRA Boss, Musa

Idris Musa

The Director-General, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, Idris Musa, has disclosed that vessels impounded for oil theft were allowed to disappear, saying "tankers caught stealing the country’s wealth should be completely destroyed."

Explaining why a maritime tanker was recently destroyed, in an interview, the NOSDRA boss said; "Remember we have a lot of issues in the Niger Delta. Even up till last Monday, out of annoyance, a vessel was destroyed. And I can tell you that I support the blowing up of that maritime tanker, because several of them have been apprehended before and then detained. But if you ask me where those maritime tankers are today, we don’t know.

"So, I’ll say anyone (tankers) caught stealing the country’s wealth should be completely destroyed. There’s no need to take it or give it to anybody; it is better destroyed so that it will not come back again. But if you sell it and say you want to recover some money from it, it will come back again, and perhaps take even more than what you probably sold it for. That is what you see happening.

"The increase is a reflection of the oil theft that is going on. Hitherto, we had spills, which were due to equipment failures. If you check our Oil Spill Monitor, you will see that we did not have so many equipment failures. What we have are outright vandalism and oil theft. And that is why up to a point we were producing less than one million barrels of crude oil daily as opposed to the over two million barrels production quota given to us by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

As of the last check, which was last Tuesday, we had moved up to 1.24 million barrels per day and we are still short by about 900,000 barrels. The reason for this is that if you produce the crude, where do you pass it through? It is through the pipelines and they are laced with valves for oil theft, and that is what the issue is. How do we combat oil theft?"

Musa noted that oil spill incidents by International Oil Companies, their local counterparts and host communities are now being criminalised and will attract severe sanctions.

In his words; "Oil spill in the Niger Delta has been very worrisome. It is worrisome in the sense that an oil spill ordinarily is something that we can combat or prevent to a very large extent, such that when you hear of the oil spill, it will be something that is not normal. That is what an oil spill is supposed to be. Why will it be something that is not routine?
"It is because based on our mandate and the international convention that puts this agency in place, the domestication of that convention is what made it possible for us to even have NOSDRA in the first instance. And this international convention is referred to as the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Cooperation, to which Nigeria is a signatory.

"If you look at the keywords in the name of the convention, it means that you prepare for oil pollution, and how do you prepare for it? You prepare for it by having a contingency plan, such that if you have an oil spill incident, you are already prepared to combat it and respond to it. And in responding to it, you need to have some kind of cooperation from various stakeholders – the one who spilled the oil, the regulator and other people who have to participate in the response activities. So, you see the cooperation. And it goes beyond that, to how you now pay compensation where necessary, and how you have to pay back the cost of combating the oil spill. There are costs that you can defray, while there are others that you cannot defray. But in the Nigerian context, there is a little departure from this."

According to him, by the content of the law establishing the agency, every oil spill incident must be reported, no matter how small.

"So, if you see that number of over 400 and 500 spills, it shows you that we are living up to our bidding and the oil companies are also responding by reporting. All those reports could be concealed as if nothing happened. They could simply say only 15 or 20 oil spills happened in a year. But something inside you will tell you that that cannot be true. That is why you have that number. You have those numbers on our Oil Spill Monitor, which was created by the agency in order to show transparency, so that nobody will accuse you of sweeping anything under the carpet," NOSDRA boss added.

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