The Joint Special Forces have busted a syndicate siphoning crude oil from Chevron/NNPC rigs on the high sea in Ondo state, Southwest Nigeria.
Bibopere Ajube, leader of the Galaxy Security Services in Ilaje Local Council Area of the state, who led the special military forces, discovered the evacuation points of the bunkering syndicate.
“Two monster boats used for the illicit operations by the syndicate were located at different points where they were hidden within suspended residential raft houses at Awoye island community,” Mr Ajube said in Akure on Tuesday.
Nigeria is losing around 600,000 barrels of crude oil daily due to the activities of vandals and oil thieves.
Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC) stated this last October after an illegal oil pipeline connecting directly to the high sea from the oil-rich Niger Delta region was recently discovered.
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Mr Kyari explained that the company uncovered the illegal oil connection from Forcados Terminal which operated for nine years.
“Oil theft in the country has been going on for over 22 years but the dimension and rate it assumed in recent times is unprecedented. The combined effect is that you have lost 600,000 barrels per day when you do a reality test.
“As a result of oil theft, Nigeria loses about 600,000 barrels per day, which is not healthy for the nation’s economy, and in particular, the legal operators in the field, which had led to a close down of some of their operational facilities,” he said.
Speaking further, Mr Ajube said they were able to track down the rigs from which the syndicate illegally siphoned the crude oil on the Atlantic Ocean through intelligence gathering.
He revealed that the rigs; CNL/NNPC JKT 1, CNL/NNPC JKT 2, CNL/NNPC JKT 9, and CNL/NNPC JKT 12, were discovered after its metal stands were soaked with crude oil spilled from the hose used by the syndicate.
“The team towed the two monster boats from Awoye community to a safe location within Ilaje LGA and set them ablaze with the products therein,” Mr Ajube added.
While lamenting the activities of the oil bunkering syndicate, he noted that the act had undermined the economy of the nation.
According to him, the joint special forces are making efforts to stop oil bunkering in the state and the Niger Delta as a whole.
Mr Ajube explained that tracking the saboteurs has been very tedious, stressing that it also requires funds, especially in terms of fueling the boats and staying on water for several hours to check their illegal activities.
“Here in Ondo State, we talk to our youths not to engage in illegal businesses, we encourage them to exert their energy in businesses that would earn them a living without security agents chasing them around.
“It is unfortunate that people engage in bunkering, a development which has drastically reduced the country’s earnings and had forced the government to go into borrowing,” he said.