Navy uncovers massive oil theft in Rivers

The Nigerian Navy has excavated and dismantled the oil equipment of a suspected oil syndicate on Oil Mining Lease-18 in Elem Krakama Creek in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The Navy said it dismantled the equipment used in siphoning crude precisely on Oil Well 17 operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited.

The Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, Commodore Suleman Ibrahim said its Patrol Helicopter on July 11, 2023. spotted the illicit activities.

Ibrahim who led newsmen to the site on Saturday said the discovery led to the dismantling of the multiple pipelines buried in the ground.

He also said four suspects engaging in the illegal oil bunkering were arrested in a separate incident.

He said excavation exercise was done in collaboration with the NNPC, and expressed shock at the level of expertise deployed by the suspects.

Ibrahim stated that such massive oil theft can not be done by those he describes as amateurs, saying the syndicate were sophisticated and people with expertise.

Addressing newsmen, Commodore Ibrahim said, “We came here with Members of NNPC, OML 18 resources, they are the owners of the well.

“We came with our heavy equipment to make sure we dismantle the illegal structures that are being used to siphon crude illegally.

“A lot of pipes have been recovered from the wellhead and we have disconnected where they are being connected to.

“As an individual what I have seen here is way beyond what I have seen elsewhere. The level of sophistication is beyond our imagination.

“The individuals involved had taken their time and done a lot of measurements and did welding on-site.”

He further said the cartels involved in the act are being tracked, noting that they will be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.

The NHS Pathfinder Commander said the NNPC OML18 technical staff have been to the second location (Kala Ekweama) and they have seen and done their assessment.

To this effect, Ibrahim said soon work will begin at both locations to ensure that the areas that have been compromised will be fixed.

Meanwhile, the Navy has apprehended four suspects in connection with oil bunkering.

The Navy Commander said though the four suspects reside in Borikiri in Port Harcourt, they hail from the Southern Ijaw axis of Bayelsa State.

When interrogated, the suspects confessed that they were paid N20,000 to transport diesel from the creek to Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.

(Punch)