Risk and resilience in the Nigerian oil sector: The economic effects of pipeline sabotage and theft
Political unrest in the Niger Delta has long been viewed as a hurdle for extracting maximum value from Nigeria's oil resources. Recently, investors and policymakers have laid blame for sector under-performance on pipeline sabotage and theft, and sounded the alarm for an impending ‘oil crisis’. However, our understanding of the economic effects of social action against oil companies is incomplete. Rigorous analysis has not heretofore been offered as evidence for such dire futures. Despite the obvious risk of pipeline interdiction, price dynamics and aggregate production respond minimally to pipeline interdiction. Based on quantitative analysis of the relationship among price, production and pipeline interdiction from multiple data sources covering different time intervals (monthly data from 2005 to 2014 and annual data from 1999 to 2013), we find no evidence of significant effects of pipeline interdiction on production and a weak relationship between pipeline interdiction and Bonny light crude prices. Reported losses in product are substantial, but there is no evidence of statistically significant impacts on price or production in the aggregate. Explanations for this counterintuitive result are cast in terms of sector resilience. The implications of this finding for producer risk and the likelihood of an impending ‘oil crisis’ are discussed.
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