LAGOS – The Nigerian government announced on Sunday allocating $1 billion to tackle oil crimes in the country, including the destruction of pipelines and wanton stealing of crude oil.
"Federal government has earmarked $1 billion for the implementation of a comprehensive program to check crude oil theft, the vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure, and the apprehension and prosecution of crude oil thieves," presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said in a statement.
"This 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," he added.
Abati said President Goodluck Jonathan made the announcement during meetings with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Shell International chief executive officer Ben van Beurden.
He quoted Jonathan as saying that a "technical committee has already been set up to look into all aspects of the implementation of the program."
The spokesman said the fresh onslaught against oil theft will require the maximum cooperation of the international community, especially major stakeholders in the global oil industry.
"Oil theft is an aspect of global terrorism, which has become a big industry on its own," he insisted.
"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."
Nigeria is faced with increasingly high oil theft and destruction of oil infrastructure.
Nigeria lost $11 billion to oil theft and pipeline vandalism in 2013 alone, according to official data.
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