The Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari, on Tuesday, alleged that stolen crude oil products are now stored in places of worship such as churches and mosques.

This was as he lamented that the phenomenon had become widespread, permeating several aspects of society.

Kyari disclosed this when he appeared at the 49th Session of the State House Briefing Organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, the NNPC operatives discovered that stolen petroleum products are stored in places of worship with the consent of the clergy, members, and neighbours.

He revealed that at least 295 illegal connections were spotted on a 200km stretch of pipeline in one instance.

“As you may be aware, because of the very unfortunate acts of vandals along our major pipelines from Atlas Cove all the way to Ibadan, and all others connecting all the 37 depots that we have across the country, none of them can take delivery of products today.

“The reason is very simple. For some of the lines, for instance, from Warri to Benin, we haven’t operated for 15 years. Every molecule of product that we put gets lost. Do you remember the sad fire incident close to Sapele that killed so many people? We had to shut it down, and as we speak, we have a high level of losses on our product pipeline.

“You remember in Lagos when a fire outbreak happened on one of our pipelines? We discovered that some of the pipelines were actually connected to individuals’ homes. And not only that, with all sensitivity to our religious beliefs, some of the pipelines and some of the products that we found are in churches and mosques,” Kyari said.

A such spate of vandalism, he said, has prompted the NNPC to shut down its entire network of pipelines conveying petroleum products nationwide.

“When we say we are losing several 700,000 barrels of crude oil daily, we mean it. This is opportunity loss. There is no company that will produce oil and then you lose 80 percent of that and continue to produce the oil.

“So we deliberately shut down the pipelines whenever we see these infractions getting to a limit that we cannot manage. So that means as we speak today, we know for sure, there’s at least 700,000 barrels that we could have produced that we can’t because we cannot guarantee the safety of the pipeline,” Kyari explained.

Asides from vandalism, the ageing pipelines also contributed to the shutdown.

Consequently, the company now relies heavily on petrol tankers, which Kyari admitted, were not favourable to roads.