- Tankers were banned from loading oil and gas on July 15
- President Buhari says 250,000 barrels of crude stolen daily
Nigeria canceled a near two-month ban on 113 foreign-flagged vessels from loading crude or gas from Africa’s top producer, according to a letter from the state oil company obtained by Bloomberg.
All incoming vessels into Nigerian waters must get a “Letter of Comfort” from export terminal operators and buyers of Nigerian crude as “guarantee that nominated vessels are free and will not be utilized for any illegal activity whatsoever,” Mele Kyari, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corp.’s group general of crude oil marketing, said in the letter dated Sept. 8.
Ohi Alegbe, a spokesman for the Abuja-based NNPC, declined to comment when contacted by phone and said he would respond later.
At least 250,000 barrels of oil are stolen daily in Nigeria, according to President Muhammadu Buhari, who has accused unidentified former ministers of being involved in the widespread theft. The tankers were banned on July 15, days before a meeting between Buhari and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington. Buhari requested U.S. support to track down $150 billion believed to have been looted by corrupt Nigerian officials.
A halving of crude prices in the past year has cased a cash crunch for the government of Africa’s biggest economy, which depends on the commodity for two-thirds of income and more than 90 of export earnings.