Oil theft in Nigeria - eye-opening article from UK's 'Guardian'

Tuesday, 8 October, 2013

An eye-opening (and eye-watering) look at oil theft, export and illegal refinement in Nigeria from the UK Guardian, which estimates the cost to the country at GBP1bn a month. A month.  But in a country with enormous wealth concentrated in a tiny segment of the population, home to 20 billionaires, and where the cost of accessing funds for development is said to be the highest in the world,  who watches the watchmen?  Some choice quotes below:

“It is dishonest for government and the oil companies to blame the poor for stealing the oil. The people in the communities are just the foot soldiers. Clearly this is a sophisticated organisation. Where do people get vessels, the money for bribes and security? It costs millions. What the poor take is very small. The racket goes deep into the security and political systems. Tens of thousands of tonnes of oil is being spirited away every week. All the authorities are involved – the oil companies, the military, the politicians. There's plenty of money to be made so everyone is in it.” - Anonymous Port Harcourt oiltrader

“The illegal refineries were set up as a direct result of the wickedness of Shell and the oil companies who polluted the waterways and never compensated us. The refineries have been destroyed but they will come back. How long can you keep armies to police these communities? We would never have allowed these [refineries] to come into our area if we had been properly compensated before.” - Boma Ipiurima Asitonka, a Bolo teacher (Ogu-Bolo is an area through which the Shell pipeline passes).

“When the [illegal] refinery was working it used to refine around 10,000 litres of oil a day. It could only operate with the help of the police and military, The pay-off system to the armed forces and police was well organised. It was a plum posting for the military here. Most army have a lifestyle that you cannot explain.” - Mela Oforibika, a lawyer and chief of the Bolo community.