President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said the Federal Government has set aside $1billion to implement a comprehensive programme aimed at checking the menace of crude oil theft, vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure and prosecution of oil thieves.
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, quoted the President as speaking at The Hague in separate meetings with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mr. Mark Rutte and the Chief Executive Officer of Shell International, Mr. Ben van Beurden.
Jonathan is at The Hague to take part in the 2014 global Nuclear Security Summit which opens on Monday.
The President said a technical committee has already been set up to look into all aspects of the implementation of the programme.
This, he explained, will include further action to enhance the
security of pipelines and other oil industry infrastructure, resolve community-related issues, boost youth empowerment in oil-producing areas and enhance the commitment of oil companies to the discharge of their corporate social responsibilities.
The President said the fresh onslaught against oil theft planned by his administration will require the maximum co-operation of the international community, especially countries like the Netherlands which are major stakeholders in the global oil industry.
“Oil theft is an aspect of global terrorism, which has become a big industry on its own. It has become a major threat to the Nigerian economy and we need to work with all stakeholders to curb it. The thieves must be traced, apprehended and prosecuted,” the statement quoted the President as saying.
The Dutch Prime Minister was quoted to have assured the President of the commitment of the Netherlands to concerted action against crude oil theft and global terrorism.
Rutte who remarked that Jonathan’s visit affirmed the strong ties between Nigeria and the Netherlands, also assured the President of the willingness of The Netherlands to collaborate more with Nigeria on environmental and security issues, particularly in the Niger Delta.
He praised Nigeria’s leadership role in promoting regional security
in West Africa, and welcomed the signing of an agreement on
immigration between both countries as well as the strong trade
relations between Nigeria and The Netherlands.
“The President’s visit is an open testimony of the strong ties
between Nigeria and Netherlands. Nigeria is Netherlands’ main trading
partner in Africa and the Netherlands is the second biggest European
investor in Nigeria,” the Dutch Prime Minister reportedly said.
Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State had told journalists
recently that due to the Federal Government’s efforts, there has been
a reduction in oil theft from about 80,000 barrels per day to the
current 40,000 barrels per day.