Nigeria is losing an average of 200,000 barrels of oil per day – more than 10% of its production – to pipeline vandalism, the country’s information minister said on Monday.
Nigeria relies on oil exports for more than half its budget and 95 per cent of foreign exchange. The cost to repair the pipelines alone is roughly N60 billion ($145.99 million), information minister Lai Mohammed told a town hall meeting in Abuja.
“One can only imagine the impact on the economy,” Mohammed said, adding that the resulting spills also had a devastating impact on the water, air and soil quality.
Typically the damage is caused by thieves who tap pipelines to illegally refine the oil and sell it on the black market.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil exporter, is pumping around 1.47 million bpd of oil as a result of an agreement with OPEC and other oil-producing nations to curtail output. Its capacity is around 2 million bpd.
Mohammed said official statistics showed that between January 2019 and September 2020, 1,161 pipeline points nationwide were vandalized.
Many oil spills in the southern oil production heartland of Africa’s biggest crude producer are caused by theft and pipeline sabotage. The taps used to steal the oil also cause accidents, fires and sometimes explosions.