Nigeria Navy Launches Operation Delta Sanity to Combat Oil Theft
By Ojugbele Omotunde
In a significant move to address the persistent challenge of oil theft and other maritime crimes, the Nigerian Navy has inaugurated “Operation Delta Sanity” on January 10, 2024.
Under the leadership of Chief of Naval Staff Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla, this operation replaces Operation Dakatar Da Barawo and aims to combat stolen crude oil and illegal bunkering, aligning with the Federal Government’s renewed efforts for sustainable Blue Economy development.
Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla commended the timely implementation of Operation Delta Sanity in the fight against crude oil theft, emphasizing the government’s commitment to the Blue Economy agenda.
He highlighted the adverse impact of theft, illegal refining sites, and pipeline damage on Nigeria’s crude oil production, which decreased from 1.579 million barrels in 2020 to 1.197 million barrels in December 2021.
Operation Dakatar Da Barawo, initiated by the naval chief, played a pivotal role in preventing oil theft, resulting in the arrest of vessels, crude oil, and refined products, including the MT Heroic Idun. The operation prevented the theft of three million barrels of crude oil, valued at N105 billion.
Subsequently, Nigeria’s crude oil production increased to 1.35 million barrels per day in September 2023 and peaked at 1.57 million barrels per day in October 2023.
President Bola Tinubu’s Blue Economy plan seeks to harness Nigeria’s maritime environment for economic growth, providing the backdrop for the reorganization of the Navy’s efforts against illicit bunkering and crude oil theft.
The Chief of Naval Staff emphasized the need for deeper integration between Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Maritime Domain Awareness systems in policing duties.
Operation Delta Sanity will employ a combination of kinetic and non-kinetic measures to build on the successes of its predecessor in the Niger Delta region.
The government calls on all participating commands and units to work collaboratively to achieve the operational objectives of the new initiative.
Delta Governor Sheriff Oborevwori, represented by Dr. Kingsley Emu, the Secretary to the State Government, lauded the Navy for the new project and pledged support.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Sen. Heineken Lokpobiri, commended the Navy’s efforts in preventing crimes in the maritime environment and urged all units to pursue Operation Delta Sanity with support from stakeholders and partners.
In conjunction with the launch of Operation Delta Sanity, the Chief of Naval Staff inaugurated a building project at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta, with attendance from Commanders of Joint Task Force, Minister of Defence, Director of Navy, and NNS Delta Commander, Commodore Chindo Yahaya, along with representatives from other military and paramilitary organizations.
This initiative marks a significant step in the ongoing efforts to secure Nigeria’s maritime assets and combat oil theft.