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May 20, 2024
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NNPCL Seizes Boat Carrying Suspected Illegally Refined Diesel

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, on Tuesday, declared that a tugboat conveying suspected illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil, popularly called diesel, has been discovered by operatives of Tantita Security Services Limited.

NNPCL said the tugboat was being escorted by a marine police boat in Rivers State before it was arrested by the security outfit, adding that five persons on the boat were currently being interrogated by Tantita.

Tantita is a security company headquartered in Warri, Nigeria, focusing on the oil and gas sector, and offers security solutions specifically designed for oil and gas assets.

In a documentary shared by the national oil company on Tuesday, with a focus on NNPCL’s war on crude oil theft, the firm also stated that it recorded 155 oil theft incidents in one week.

It said, “On Monday, April 1, 2024, Tantita Security Services team on patrol pursued and arrested a tugboat – Aya Oba Olori II, which was being escorted by a marine police boat in Rivers State.

“The tugboat was laden with an unspecified quantity of suspected illegally refined AGO which was loaded from a barge at Onne dock on March 31. Five persons onboard the tugboat were arrested by Tantita team and are undergoing interrogation.”

The company stated that in one week, 53 illegal pipeline connections and 36 illegal refineries were uncovered in the Niger Delta.

“Between March 30 and April 5, 2024, a total of 155 incidents were recorded across several locations in the Niger Delta region from various incident sources,” the firm stated.

In a summary of the incidents, NNPCL stated that it recorded 53 illegal connections, discovered 36 illegal refineries and 32 wooden fibre boats, identified 14 pipeline vandalism cases, eight vessel infractions and four oil spills, as well as making seven vehicle and one vessel arrests.

Some of the incident sources include the Nigeria Agip Oil Company, Tantita Security Services Ltd, NNPCL Command and Control Centre, Shell Petroleum Development Company, and NNPCL 18 Operating Ltd, among others.

Providing additional details, the company said, “In the past week, 32 wooden boats conveying stolen crude and illegally refined products were seized and confiscated in Rivers and Delta states.

“On land, seven vehicles loaded with stolen crude were arrested in Imo, Delta and Rivers states. 53 illegal connections were uncovered between March 30 and April 5, 2024 in Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta states.

“14 cases of vandalism were also recorded in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta states, while illegal storage sites where stolen crude and illegally refined products are kept were uncovered in Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Rivers and Delta states.”

The national oil company also stated there were clusters of illegal refineries in Abia State, as activities of oil thieves had devastated the affected environments in the state.

It said 36 clusters of illegal refineries were discovered in the past week across several locations in Rivers and Abia states.

“Four cases of oil spills due to activities of vandals were recorded in the past week,” NNPCL stated, adding that in Rivers State, oil leaks from a wellhead are destroying aquatic lives.

NNPCL stated that 38 suspects were arrested during the week under review, stressing that the national oil company would not back down on the war against crude oil theft until the menace was eradicated.

Nigeria has been losing trillions of naira to crude oil theft, a development that has made some international oil companies divest from onshore to deep offshore oil fields, while others have exited the country.

In November 2023, for instance, The PUNCH reported that the Federal Government revealed that more than N4.3tn worth of crude oil was stolen in 7,143 pipeline vandalism cases within a period of five years.

The report stated that the government disclosed this at the Nigeria International Pipeline Technology and Security Conference in Abuja, with the theme, ‘Bolstering Regulations, Technology and Security for Growth.’ The conference was organised by the Pipeline Professionals Association of Nigeria.

In a presentation at the conference by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a Federal Government agency, the organisation revealed that oil theft and losses in Nigeria had become a national emergency.

The Executive Secretary, NEITI, Ogbonnaya Orji, said oil theft was an emergency that posed serious threat to oil exploration and exploitation with huge negative consequences on economic growth, business prospects and profit earnings by oil companies.

Providing data from the agency’s reports to back his claims, he said: “NEITI disclosed that in the last five years, 2017 to 2021, Nigeria recorded 7,143 cases of pipeline breakages and deliberate vandalism resulting in crude theft and product losses of 208.639 million barrels valued at $12.74m or N4.325tn.

“NEITI reports also disclosed that during the same period Nigeria spent N471.493bn to either repair or maintain pipelines.”

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