• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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NNPC busts oil bunkering in Bayelsa

NNPC busts oil bunkering in Bayelsa

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) has uncovered a suspected oil bunkering ring in Bayelsa state. The surveillance operation on June 23rd, 2024, targeted the Okoroba axis of Nembe Local Government Area and the Elemuama axis.

The discovery of the illegal bunkering camp in Bayelsa was said to have uncovered startling evidence implicating one of the subcontractors in massive oil theft.

It was further understood that the implicated subcontractor provides surveillance security services to Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (Aiteo), an oil exploration company.

The identity cards of the employees of the surveillance firm discovered on-site and other incriminating evidence has now raised severe questions about the complicity of the company and its owner’s involvement in illicit oil bunkering activities in the region.

Also uncovered during the raid were two additional unauthorised bunkering camps nearby with the surveillance team seizing and subsequently destroying two large boats loaded with crude oil and a fibre boat, which were set ablaze to prevent further illicit activities. These boats could reportedly carry large quantities of oil, indicating the scale of the operation

Also fingered was one Livingston whose operations spread across Bayelsa State, specifically in the creeks of Nembe—Brass. He is said to own several illegal bunkering camps and controls a vast transportation network that transports illegal refined petroleum products to various parts of the state.

However, Livingston is also said to be the coordinator of all illegal bunkering groups that have been complicit in vandalising the facilities of Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company.

Persons with knowledge of the goings-on in the area stated that if the culprits are not arrested and prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others, illegal bunkering may continue in the location.

Also said to have been fingered around Nembe and Brass was one person popularly known as “Organiser,” who is said to be orchestrating a sophisticated network that recruits and transports individuals to carry out the destructive activities.

The NNPc believes that the continued evasion of justice of persons fingered underscores the need for stringent measures to halt systematic economic sabotage in the region.

On October 10, 2023, the Nigerian Senate, in its commitment to addressing the issue, revealed that the country lost N2.3 trillion to crude oil theft. Senator Ned Nwoko revealed that pipeline vandalism and oil bunkering have precipitated a severe socio-economic crisis in Nigeria. He emphasized that statistical data underscores the gravity of the situation, further exacerbated by the complicity of some security agents collaborating with the perpetrators.

In a recent disclosure, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd reported a staggering 400 incidents of crude oil theft within the past week. The bulk of the 400 incidences recorded during the week occurred in the Western region of Rivers and Bayelsa states, with 265 incidences.

They include illegal refineries, unauthorised pipeline connections, vandalism, oil spills, and unlicensed storage sites. From June 15 to June 21, 2024, the NNPC identified 165 illegal refineries, 69 unauthorised connections, 15 acts of vandalism, eight oil spills, and 19 illegal storage locations. Additionally, there were 74 vessel AIS infractions, among other violations.

Experts have suggested that “measures such as the complete confiscation of assets and freezing all accounts using BVNs will be a highly effective course of action by the EFCC and relevant bodies as Nigeria seeks to combat oil theft.

They also urge concerned Nigerians to demand accountability from law enforcement agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the police as Nigeria cannot afford to let criminals destroy and impoverish the economy to insolvency.