By G9ija

Nigeria lost an estimated N15 trillion to illegal bunkering and other crude oil thefts in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country between 2015 and 2018, a report by the New Nigeria Foundation (NNF) has shown.

The figure, which translates to about $41 billion at the exchange rate of N360 to a dollar, is 43 per cent of the nation’s oil earning for the period. This places Nigeria as the worst country in the world in terms of crude oil theft globally.

The report entitled: ‘Unboxing crude oil theft in Nigeria’, estimated that the fund lost to crude oil theft during the four-year period could have helped bridged 28.7 percent of Nigeria’s budget deficit for the period under review.

The report stated: “In the last four years, Nigerian has lost approximately 43percent of recorded revenue to oil theft, which amounts to 17percent of the country’s budget for same period.

“The amount lost could have paid 28.7percent of Nigeria’s budget deficit in that period.”

NNF Senior Programme Manager, Chikodi Chiedo, stated that crude oil theft has become a multi-billion dollar industry “with a lot of players at various levels involved”.

The report, which was published by the PIND Foundation on Monday evening, adduced several reasons for the attractiveness of the illicit oil industry, stating: “Crude oil theft occurs for several reasons, including poverty, high unemployment, and grievances about resource control, among others.”

It identified poor governance of oil revenue, corruption, and a lopsided revenue structure, among others, as contributors to the spike in oil thefts.