Navy Continues Crackdown On Oil Thieves, Destroys Illegal Refineries In Rivers | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Navy Continues Crackdown On Oil Thieves, Destroys Illegal Refineries In Rivers

Posted: Sep 6, 2015 at 6:03 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Daniel Abia, P/Harcourt


As part of President Mohammadu Buhari’s promise to rid the oil sector of all forms of criminality, the Nigerian Navy, on Sunday, began mopping up several illegal refineries, which have the capacity to produce “thousands of petroleum products daily.”

Commodore Shuwa Mohammed, Commander NNS Pathfinder, disclosed this to journalists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, after aerial and land surveillance of the recently discovered illegal modular refineries in Rivers State.

Several illegal refineries hidden in the thick mangrove forest were sighted during the aerial surveillance. The environment where the activities of illegal bunkering thrived was also largely polluted.

“The mop-up is aimed to end colossal damage done to the environment by activities of oil thieves who through acts of sabotage puncture pipelines to obtain crude oil illegally.

“The mop-up ordered by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, is part of a series of operations lined up to end incessant crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the state.

“During our aerial surveillance, recently, several new illegal refineries were sighted with their positions in latitude and longitude obtained, prompting troops mobilisation,” Mohammed said.

The commodore explained that, “In the course of our operation today (Sunday), an illegal refinery with 15 storage metallic tanks loaded with 145,000 litres of stolen crude oil was set ablaze in Buguma, Asari Toru Local Government Area of Rivers.”

Represented by Commander Chidi Ejiofor, the Pathfiner’s Base Operation Officer, Mohammed said that more than 50,000 litres of illegally refined diesel stored in 10 tanks were also destroyed, adding: “a metallic barge and dump, which had capacity to store thousands of (litres of) petroleum products was also destroyed during the raid.”

He stated that over 20 operators of the illegal refineries fled the scene on sighting Navy troops.

“Ironically, while setting the refinery ablaze, four out of the fleeing oil thieves came back and offered us a bribe of N600,000 to leave the refinery.

“The four suspects were subsequently arrested and would be handed over to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for investigation and prosecution,” he said.

Mohammed maintained that despite renewed efforts by the naval high command to stop oil theft, sensitization was key to ending oil theft rather than destruction alone, stressing that “there are about 33,000 creeks in the Niger Delta of which NNS Pathfinder is saddled with responsibility for more than 1,000 of the creeks and waterways.”

“It is difficult to maintain 24-hour presence in all of these creeks and oil facilities, especially having in mind the shallowness of some of the creeks, which make them near impossible to patrol.”