The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, on Wednesday threatened showdown with the Federal Government over the massive oil theft in the Niger Delta.
The President, PENGASSAN, Festus Osifo, in an interview with journalists in Abuja, blamed soldiers and other security agents protecting pipelines in the country for the continued oil theft.
He said the association would halt oil production if the government failed to stop the theft.
He also disclosed that the association would hold rallies simultaneously on Thursday (today) in Abuja, Warri, Kaduna and Lagos.
According to him, the rallies would let the government know that PENGASSAN members were tired of producing oil that would be stolen eventually by thieves despite the protection of pipelines by security agencies.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, had last week Tuesday said the spate of vandalism had prompted the NNPC to shut down its entire network of pipelines conveying petroleum products nationwide.
“When we say we are losing several 700,000 barrels of crude oil daily, we mean it. This is opportunity loss. There is no company that will produce oil and then you lose 80 percent of that and continue to produce the oil.
“So, we deliberately shut down the pipelines whenever we see these infractions getting to a limit that we cannot manage. So that means as we speak today, we know for sure, there’s at least 700,000 barrels that we could have produced that we can’t because we cannot guarantee the safety of the pipeline,” Kyari explained.
Lamenting the effect of the oil theft, Osifo called for the imprisonment of security officers assigned to protect pipelines from where humongous volumes of crude oil were being stolen daily, stressing that many oil companies were shutting down operations due to this development.
The President, PENGASSAN, Festus Osifo, told journalists in Abuja that the international oil companies such as Agip, Total, Shell and Addax, had stopped oil production in some wells due to the theft, as the jobs of workers in these firms were currently threatened.
He said, “If after this rally there is no traceable progress, as an association, we may be forced to withdraw our workforce from the operating companies, because we cannot continuously send crude oil into the pipelines and at the end of the day the pipelines are vandalised by people who don’t know how the oil was produced.
“Some of these pipeline vandals, when you stop production into a line, they call our members and threaten them, asking our members why they stopped production into the line and that they should open the line.
“So, the lives of our members are even at risk. For someone to have your phone number and call you, that means the person knows you. Therefore, we can no longer condone this, government must sit up.”
The association called for the detention of security personnel assigned to protect the pipelines from where crude oil was being stolen in large volumes daily.
Osifo said, “Government must wake up. You cannot send naval officers, civil defence operatives, as well as men and women of the Nigerian Army to the creeks of the Niger Delta and you don’t develop a mechanism to hold them accountable.
“Accountability is key because when you send people to man certain areas and the pipelines there are compromised, how many of these people are jailed? This is because there is no accountability.
“If there is no consequence management and you keep reshuffling them every six months, what you are only doing is creating cycles of millionaires from oil theft every six months. And that is what is currently happening.”
He added, “So, we call on the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and Chief of Army Staff that they must know the soldiers that they send to the creeks as well as other officers they send there and they must hold them accountable.