NNPCL Unveils 83 Illicit Refineries Discovered in Niger Delta
By George George Idowu
In the ongoing battle against illegal refineries in the country, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has reported the discovery of 83 such operations in the Niger Delta region.
This significant revelation, along with the unearthing of 15 illegal pipeline connections during the same timeframe, was officially communicated through the NNPCL’s official channels on Tuesday.
According to the information shared in a video accompanying the announcement, spanning from January 6 to 12, a total of 211 incidents related to oil theft and vandalism were documented.
Among these incidents, seven cases of vandalism were recorded, notably including damage to a wellhead in the Umuajuloke community in Rivers State.
Additionally, an active wellhead with several illegal connections was identified in Owerri.
The report also highlighted nine cases of oil spills during the week, primarily attributed to vandalism.
Notably, the community of Ogboinbiri in Bayelsa State bore the brunt of environmental damage caused by these spills.
Further details revealed that the illicit activities were widespread across Rivers, Abia, Imo, and Bayelsa States. A drone surveillance captured illegal refineries in Owaza, Abia State, while illegal oil connections were discovered in Olodiama, Bayelsa State, and Obuzor in Abia State.
NNPCL disclosed the detection of five illegal oil storage sites in Central Boma and Cocoa Camp in Bayelsa State. Law enforcement also seized sacks of crude oil in Iba, Rivers State.
Additionally, a significant interception involved apprehending 60 wooden and fiber boats in Akwa Ibom, Delta State, and Rivers State.
The incidents were distributed across different regions, with eight occurring in deep blue waters, 54 in the Western Region, 81 in the Central region, and 68 in the Eastern region.
In response to these activities, the NNPCL reported the arrest of 22 suspects linked to the incidents. Notably, between December 30, 2023, and January 5, 2024, a total of 157 incidents of crude oil theft were documented in the Niger Delta.
These cases were attributed to various sources, including Nigeria Agip Oil, Pipeline Infrastructure Nigeria Limited, Maton Engineering Limited, Tantita Security Services Limited, NNPCL Command and Control Centre, Shell Petroleum Development Company, and government security agencies.
Despite the Nigerian National Petroleum Company’s commitment to intensify efforts against crude oil theft, the persistent occurrence of such incidents indicates a need for more robust measures.
The federal government has previously disclosed that over N4.3tn worth of crude oil was stolen in 7,143 pipeline vandalism cases within a five-year period.