●Says arrested suspects undergoing prosecution, blames current petrol scarcity on distribution hiccups
Chief Investment Officer of the NNPC Upstream Investment Management Services (NUIMS), Mr Bala Wunti, is upbeat by the successes being recorded in the fight against crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, even as he declared that the identities of oil theft suspects would soon be disclosed to Nigerians.
Wunti said the arrested persons in connection with bunkering activities were undergoing prosecution.
Wunti, who featured on Arise News Channel’s, “The Morning Show”, said the successes recorded in the fight against crude theft saw Nigeria’s oil production climb up to 1.59 barrels per day following an improvement in the security architecture driven by technology.
He said the achievements were cumulative results of technology, improved security architecture, the synergy among the government security agencies, private security contractors, and the community assistance.
“The new architecture was anchored on basically on rectangular architecture layered on technology.
“It brings together the security and intelligence agency at one angle, the regulators at another angle, the operators at another angle, and then brings in what was almost zero -the community into the other angle, and without the community you can’t achieve that.
“That is just the innovation and we layered it on a technology -Command and Control Centre. I’m glad this media house has visited that Command and Control Centre.
“Today, we have end-to-end visibility, we are able to detect, we are able to deter and we are able to respond.
“We are still making a lot of improvement and that’s what you call the 3DR: we first detect, we deactivate, and we destroy and then we remove.
“The success that we recorded today was essentially because of this improved security situation. We’re now almost at an average of 350,000 barrels increase. At a certain level, we recorded up to 450,000 increase at a given year.
“So you can see, we are now from 1.1 barely to about 1.59 barrels this morning. So these are some of the things we have been able to record on the new security architecture.
“I can tell you that we have successfully to some extent stopped this menace,” Wunti said.
He said the names that would be announced soon as culprits would shock Nigerians.
He said more arrests had been made since the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mele Kyari, first spoke about those arrested in connection with the criminal oil theft.
“As I speak to you now, some of them are undergoing prosecution. There are certain things to be done in terms of the announcement. The government, particularly the intelligence agencies including the Financial Intelligence agency are following the money.
“Sometimes, when you go out quickly, you tend to compromise certain things. And I believe the detail and the diligence are being implemented. So it’s not whether or not those people will be named. People will be named.
“The question is when? And I think when government agencies and intelligence agencies have concluded what they are doing, I’m sure everybody will get to know who are involved. As to who and who? Eyes will be shocked,” Wunti said.
On the current fuel scarcity in the country, Wunti blamed the situation on the hiccups on product distribution system, saying supply was not the reason for the disruption in the value chain.
He explained that the task of making any product available rested on 3As — making available, affordable, accessible.
Wunti explained that guaranteeing security of products rested on the supply, distribution and retail.
He pointed out that the challenge in Nigeria had always been more around distribution than supply.
He disclosed that about two billion litres of petrol were currently in stock but that the volume would only make an impact on the people if all the product was sent to filling stations across the country.
Wunti stressed: “Needless to say, 60 to 65 per cent of the country source their product from Lagos. At the last count, we only have 35,000 trucks. That 35,000 crisscross this country.
“They go to Maiduguri, Sokoto, Calabar and the rate at which they make their turnaround has changed significantly from one week to 10 days. Now, they hardly do once in a month. That brought about several constraints.
“We all know what the problem was in the last supply disruption. Around Apapa axis, there was a blockage. No truck loaded can leave and that created a problem.
“If you stay one day without delivering product to Lagos, you need a minimum of one week to supply at higher rate to address that. If you waste two days, it will take you almost three weeks to close the gap and if you waste three days, it will take you one month. That is the problem.
“Even as at today, we have about two billion litres. That two billion litres are supposed to be in our stock, in our depots, either NNPC or other private depots.
“What constitutes this two billion litres is what you have in the marine and what you have in the stock, in the depots. But your ability to take this two billion litres to the stations is where the problem lies.”
Wunti assured Nigerians that all the stakeholders were working round the clock to ensure that the issue was resolved, adding that there was enough petrol that would last beyond the Yuletide.