Navy, NNPC launch special operation against oil theft

The Nigeria Navy on Friday launched a special operation to stop oil thieves from further sabotaging the nation’s oil and gas installations.

Awwal Gambo, the chief of naval staff, spoke at the launch of the operation, codenamed “Dakatar Da Barawo” which means ‘stop the thief’ in the Hausa language in Onne, Rivers.

Gambo, represented by the chief of policy and plans, Suleiman Garba, blamed the nation’s economic downturn on attacks on oil and gas facilities by saboteurs.

He said about 40 warships, 200 gunboats, five helicopters and its Special Boat Service (Special Forces) and several other units would participate in the three months operation.

“Operation Dakatar Da Barawo in collaboration with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will identify where the problem (breach on pipelines) is.

“Secondly, we will track the oil thieves and secure the pipelines for the economic prosperity of the country.

“The NNPC is concerned by the reports in the past few months of massive theft of petroleum products purportedly from the pipeline to (illicit) vessels resulting in huge revenue losses,” Gambo said.

He said the navy under his command was fully committed to eliminating all acts of criminalities in Nigeria’s maritime environment and the Gulf of Guinea.

“We will use this operation to dominate the nation’s backwaters through aggressive and intelligence-driven patrols.

The operation will be used to monitor pipelines; block identified strategic estuaries, with a focus on preventing the conveyance of stolen crude oil from inshore to sea.

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“The navy will also maintain a credible presence along the coastline of areas prone to crude oil theft,” Gambo added. He said that navy Special Forces aided by aerial surveillance would conduct clearance operations to curb oil theft and illicit dealings in petroleum products in the country.

Gambo said the newly acquired Falcon Eye system had further enhanced the navy’s regional maritime domain awareness capability.

“The system was used to monitor MT Queen of Peace for one month, leading to her eventual interception on March 15 with over three million litres of suspected crude oil,” he noted.

Mele Kyari, group managing director of the NNPC, said the rising oil theft and illegal oil bunkering had affected the operations of the corporation.

Represented by Ahmed Dikko, the managing director of Port Harcourt Refining Company, Kyari said the Federal Government was worried about the escalating attacks on critical oil and gas installations.

“To this end, the NNPC reached out to the Nigerian Navy to conduct this special operation to bring this menace to the barest minimum.

“We are open to supporting the navy in any way possible to end the monumental revenue losses from the activities of the oil thieves,” he said.

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