Navy adopts fresh strategies against oil theft
Niger Delta group explains persistence of menace
IN a renewed bid to drastically reduce oil theft, piracy and attacks on oil and gas installations on the waterways and maritime environment, the Nigerian Navy said it has adopted fresh strategies to check the menace and boost the economy.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, disclosed that the moves include strategically positioning the troops at “choke points,” thereby making it difficult for oil thieves to transport stolen petroleum products.
However, the Centre for the vulnerable and the underprivileged (Centrep) has accused security agencies of complicity in the high-level oil theft in the Niger Delta region, saying it is the reason the scourge could not be checked.
Ibas said yesterday in Port Harcourt shortly after addressing officers and ratings of the Nigerian Navy Ship, Pathfinder Port Harcourt: “The navy has come up with patrol strategies and creation of more choke points so that when oil thieves steal whatever they have to, they cannot have access into the open sea.
We are recapitalising our fleet and building capacities by way of getting our docks, yards and shipyards operational to enable us perform better.
Efforts put in by the navy (with assistance from other security services) in 2014 resulted to drastic reduction of crude oil theft from about 1.2 million barrels per day to about 250,000.
However, Ibas said that in spite of government’s efforts in providing resources, the navy still lacked the capacity to monitor all wellheads, pipelines and other facilities due to the difficulty of the terrain.
More so, he said the navy cannot be held accountable for the adverse impact of the destruction of illegal refineries and boats carrying stolen petroleum products on the environment.
Similarly, the Commander, NNS Pathfinder Port Harcourt, Commodore Shuwa Mohammed, said the navy has destroyed 78 illegal refineries, burnt 1.965 million litres of stolen crude and 942,000 litres of stolen diesel in 65 days operation.
Why oil theft persists Centrep described as untrue the recent statement by the Commanding Officer, NNS Warri, Commodore Aliyu Sule, that impunity and the slow pace of adjudication were responsible for the persistent illegal bunkering in the region.
Rather, “the root, stem and branches of the persistence are the high level of connivance by security agents serving in the region with oil thieves in the area,” the group’s coordinator, Oghenejabor Ikimi, said.
The group urged the Federal Government to turn its searchlight on all security agencies in the region, including their bank accounts, or grant operational licences to interested persons in the area to operate modular refineries and refine crude oil as a way of supporting the ailing refineries, generate income and provide employment.
It’s almost impossible for a country like Nigeria to be losing a whopping 30 million barrels of crude oil per day to oil thieves without the connivance of top politicians from the area and security personnel, that is, the army, navy, airforce, police and the Department of State Security, which are saddled with providing security in the area,” it noted.
Little wonder the naval boss claimed that in one of his command’s operations to rid his area of oil thieves, he and his men raided Kantu Forest in Delta State twice within three weeks to destroy illegal refineries in the forest.
This clearly corroborates the fact that there is connivance in the illicit business between security agents and oil thieves in the area.”