The Federal Government disclosed on Monday that the country lost 4.5 trillion barrels of oil to thieves in four years even as it suffered 4,919 oil spills between 2015 to March 2021.
The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, made this disclosure during a Town Hall meeting organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture on protecting oil and gas infrastructure in Abuja.
According to the minister, statistical data collated by the National Oil Spill Detection Agency (NOSDRA) on the incidents indicated that the total number of oil spills recorded during the review period totaled 4,919.
He clarified: “The number of oil spills cost by collation is 308. The operational maintenance is 106, while sabotage is 3,628 and yet to be determined 70, giving the total number of oil spills on the environment to 235,206 barrels of oil. This is very colossal to the environment.
“Nigeria also lost approximately 4.75 trillion on oil activities in the four years between 2015 and 2018, as estimated by the Nigeria Natural Resources Charter. Several statistics have emphasized Nigeria as the most notorious country in the world for oil spills, loosing roughly 400,000 barrels per day.
“The second country is followed by Mexico that has reported only 5,000 to 10,000 barrel only per day, thus a difference of about 3, 900 per cent. Now the environmental effect, which is the major concern of the ministry of environment, is in the loss of revenue.
“Attack on oil facilities has become the innovation that replaced agitations in the Niger Delta region against perceived poor governance and neglect of the area. The impacts of vandalism of oil facilities have not only caused pollution of the environment, but had consequences on the local people, the national economy and security”, the minister added.
Lamenting that the activities that come with oil exploration and exploitation had similarly caused alterations to the environment with far-reaching negative implications for lives and fauna, Abubakar said that government had taken various mitigation measures, including enforcement of relevant laws, regulations and guidelines, such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Act, to mitigate the degradation of the environment.
The minister further explained that the EIA process ensured that measures were put in place to assist in the reduction of the negative effects and enhancement of the positive effects on the ecology, health and social wellbeing of communities in project areas.
Specifically, he disclosed that over 1,300 oil and gas projects in Nigeria had been subjected to EIA process under the supervision of the ministry of Environment.
Abubakar also hinted that ministry held periodic interactive sessions with oil and gas operators on matters relating to the continued degradation of the environment, fatalities and loss of revenue, attributable to the regular and incessant vandalism of oil facilities, particularly pipelines.
Reflecting on the effects of the destruction of oil and gas facilities, the minister explained that the damages had caused huge economic losses from pipelines to plant shut downs, loss of biodiversity, habitat and ecological damage, degradation of soil quality which drastically reduces soil fertility, thereby negatively affecting crop yields and food security.
In addition, he listed other negative impacts of oil and gas facilities’ damages as including, increase in air pollution and the attendant climate change issues, public health impacts on affected communities, social impacts and loss of livelihood, supremacy among militants, casualties, among others..
On the best way to tackle oil facilities damage menace, Abubakar canvassed the need for improved awareness creation on the negative consequences of vandalism of oil facilities and other illegal activities for the environment, lives, fauna and the nation’s economy.