•Refining crude oil illegally is big business in the Niger Delta
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, said on Sunday that oil thieves will no longer have the capacity to transport stolen petroleum products.
Ibas said this shortly after addressing officers and ratings of the Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder Port Harcourt.
He said that troops will now be strategically positioned at “choke points” to prevent transportation of stolen petroleum products.
According to him, navy is also putting in place other tactical strategies to curb oil theft, piracy and attacks on oil and gas installations on the waterways and maritime environment.
“We are recapitalising our fleet and building capacities by way of getting our docks, yards and shipyards to be operational, so that we will be in a position to perform better.
“Efforts put in by the navy (with assistance from other security services) in 2014 resulted in drastic reduction of crude oil theft from about 1.2 million barrels per day to about 250,000.
“The navy has come up with patrol strategies and creation of more choke points, so that, when oil thieves steal whatever they have to steal, they cannot have access into the open sea,” he said.
Ibas said though government had done much in the provision of resources the navy still lacked the capacity to monitor all wellheads, pipelines and other facilities due to difficulty of the Niger Delta terrain.
He said the navy could not be held accountable for the adverse impact on the environment caused by the destruction of illegal refineries and boats carrying stolen petroleum products.
“When you check around our jetties you will see badges and boat littering the entire jetties just because some relevant agencies are not doing their part in prosecution and evacuation of products.
“If the navy do not destroy these boats, it means you are providing criminals the opportunity to steal the products back again,” he explained.
The naval boss said the navy would continue to do all it could to deter oil thieves and pipeline vandals from sabotaging the nation’s economy.
Meanwhile, the navy said it had destroyed 78 illegal refineries and set ablaze 1.965 million litres of stolen crude oil and 942,000 litres of stolen diesel in 65 days operation.
Commodore Shuwa Mohammed, Commander NNS Pathfinder Port Harcourt, made this known on Sunday at the destruction of some illegal refineries in Isaka, Okirika local government area of Rivers.
He said navy troops also destroyed 32 storage tanks, seven ground storage tanks, four drums and one Cotonou boat during the time under review.
“On July 29, troops on patrol along Cartharwn Channel and Bile discovered and destroyed two illegal crude oil refineries with two storage tanks and four drums containing 601,200 litres of stolen crude oil.
“Operatives also set ablaze four ground storage tanks containing about 10,000 litres of product suspected to be illegally refined diesel,” he said.
Represented by Commander Chidi Ejiofor, the Pathfinder’s Base Operation Officer, Mohammed said the operatives also destroyed an illegal refinery with two storage tanks containing 300,000 litres of crude oil in Onne.
He said that about 400,000 litres of product suspected to be illegally refined diesel was also put on fire.
“Similarly, on July 21 our troops located five large illegal bunkering sites along Ogbololo creek, Eleme with 15 storage tanks containing 750,000 litres of stolen crude oil.
“At same location, about 500,000 litres of illegally gotten diesel stored in 10 storage tanks was burnt,” he said.
The navy commander further said three illegal refineries, two storage and six ground storage tanks containing 15,000 litres of crude oil and 6,000 litres of diesel were destroyed on Aug 16.