First, Nigeria does not know exactly the quantity of crude oil it produces.

So, it is seems quite easy to steal crude.

Government agencies always rely on the goodwill of operators to determine the amount of lifting that were carried out.

On Wednesday, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Waziri Adio, disclosed that a whopping $15.9 billion, about 4.9 trillion Naira in crude oil was either lost or not accounted for between 2011 and 2014.

To some industry watchers, this is not entirely surprising.

Adio spoke when he appeared before the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee which is investigating the $17 billion undeclared oil and gas proceeds.

He partly blamed the recurring cases of crude oil theft on the absence of a mechanism for monitoring and measuring the precise volume of oil production.

According to Adio, the sum of $4.3 billion; $2.7 billion; $4.7 billion and $4.1 billion were unaccounted for in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively.

How were these amounts of crude oil stolen?

According to Adio, some of the losses could have come from deliberate under-declarations by indigenous oil companies as well as outright theft at production terminals.

To make matters worse, the agency that should make sure these stealing stop, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA had never taken any individual or entity to court to serve as deterrent.

Even when there were clear infractions by oil vessels, the agency had always chosen to “negotiate” and resolve the issue without considering prosecution.