BY EMEKA EJERE
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has planned a nationwide protest over crude oil theft, its President, Festus Osifo, said on Wednesday.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, Osifo, charged the government to hold those whose responsibility it is to protect oil pipelines to account.
A recent industry report had revealed that it is not hidden information that a sophisticated mafia of powerful Nigerians and foreigners, including top military operators, government officials, highly-placed and retired oil industry personnel, politicians and businessmen are the big-time oil thieves and financiers of oil bunkering syndicates.
According to the report, the oil bunkering cartel working with insiders steal crude directly from major crude oil pipelines in the Niger Delta, while officials pump crude to the different Terminals. They know the time and duration of pumping and exact pipelines.
“The damage inflicted by small-time oil bunkers in Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa and other states, who illegitimately refine crude oil in the Niger-Delta region is a child’s play compared to the havoc the connected cartel that owns giant vessels and equipment wreak on the economy”, the report said.
PENGASSAN also threatened to withdraw their services should the government failed to take decisive action against oil thieves, as the current situation already affects its members in oil-producing companies that have been shut down due to theft.
The association urged the Federal Government to punish culprits to serve as deterrent.