President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said the Federal Government had set aside $1bn 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, 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 (today).
The President said a technical committee had been set up to look into all aspects of the implementation of the programme.
This, he explained, would 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.
Jonathan said the onslaught against oil theft planned by his administration would require the maximum cooperation of the international community, especially countries like the Netherlands, which were 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 his country 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 them.
“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 Prime Minister reportedly said.