Nigeria’s crude oil production fell below 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in August, according to figures from its regulator.
The drop in production has been blamed on the growing case of pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft.
The country’s total oil and condensate production fell to an annual low of 1.18 million bpd in August, data from Nigeria’s Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission showed.
This is Nigeria’s lowest average daily production since at least 1997, data from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) show.
Their figures show that production never dropped below 1.4 million bpd, even amid what was then considered “crippling militant attacks” in the Niger Delta in 2009-10 and again in 2016.
Industrial-scale oil theft poses an “existential” threat to Africa’s biggest oil exporter, a Shell executive said in July, while President Muhammadu Buhari said the problem was “enormously” affecting government finances.
According to OPEC data, in July Nigeria was behind Angola as the biggest exporter in Africa.
The highest production this year, recorded in January, was 1.68 million bpd, although the country has the capacity to export around 2 million bpd.
Last month, the head of state oil company NNPC LTD said its exports were missing 700,000 bpd as thieves stole some of the oil and companies closed operations in other fields to ward off the thieves.
Some companies said that more than 80% of the oil they put in certain pipelines was stolen.
A union of oil workers this week expressed concern for the safety of its members and threatened to go on strike unless the government takes swift action to stem the oil theft.