NIGERIA has appealed to foreign countries to enlighten their citizens on the implication of engaging in illegal oil bunkering in any part of the country.
Ashiru, who revealed this after a meeting with a delegation of United Kingdom’s (UK) government at the ongoing 22nd Ordinary Session of African Union, asserted that most of the ships arrested for crude oil bunkering in the past belong to foreigners, arguing that if there is no willing foreign buyer, there won’t be a seller.
The minister, therefore, asked the delegation and by extension, other foreign governments to dissuade their citizens from engaging in oil bunkering in Nigeria.
He said he informed the delegation that he would not be in a position to help if any of their citizens is caught by Nigerian security forces.
Ashiru added that his appeal is coming after a similar warning to accredited diplomats in Nigeria during a meeting he had with them about two weeks ago.
He added that with this warning, any foreigner caught for bunkering would automatically face the Nigerian court process.
However, the practice of illegal hacking into pipelines to steal crude, then refining it or selling it abroad is now common in Nigeria.
Flooding and large-scale theft of crude drove Nigerian oil output to the lowest level for more than two years in October, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said recently, highlighting challenges facing Africa’s biggest producer.
Oil production in Nigeria fell to 1.95 million barrels per day in October, the agency said a report, with production in recent months having ranged between 2.0 and 2.5 mbd.
The drop from September to October last year was around 110,000 barrels per day, it said, leaving Nigerian production at “the lowest level in around two and half years.”
It said: “By early November, production levels were recovering, with export schedules showing increased volumes for December.”
It was enough to keep Nigeria as Africa’s top producer ahead of Angola at 1.79 million barrels per day, but the drop came amid growing warnings that the country must take action to avoid stagnant output in the future.
The IEA report cited heavy flooding, which hit Nigerian production during rainy season as well as the continuing problem of large-scale and organised oil theft in the continent’s most populous nation.