The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has disclosed that it documented 149 cases of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta within a one-week period.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the company revealed that one of these incidents involved the discovery of an oil bunkering site in Osuobodo, situated between two ANTAN flow stations south of the Oguta naval base in Imo State.
The statement further highlighted the audacity of these criminals, who have escalated their activities by installing CCTV cameras in trees to watch for security personnel. Additionally, they have mounted mortar launchers and defense systems at various locations to deter perceived threats.
This discovery was made possible through a military operation based on information obtained from air surveillance conducted by Target Energy, Tantita Security Services, Operation Delta Safe, and the Military back in August.
NNPCL described this situation as a well-organized mission, with the thieves determined to maintain their presence and trade in stolen crude oil. Even the absence of electricity was no obstacle, as standby generators were in place to sustain the camp’s operations.
Numerous drums of crude oil, equipment used for storing crude, and other related items were found at the camp.
Furthermore, the statement indicated that between the 14th and 20th of October, 2023, 49 illegal connections were uncovered in various locations, including Udu and Ogharefe in Delta State, Ohaji Egbema in Imo, Brass in Bayelsa, and Rivers State.
In Rivers State, the oil thieves went to the extent of drilling a tunnel beneath a tarred road to insert their illegal connections, aiming to operate covertly. This action was executed by an expert using a horizontal directional drilling machine.
The statement also reported 16 cases of pipeline vandalism, including incidents in Azuzu in Bayelsa State and Obodo Omadina and Ogidigbein in Delta State, where a wellhead was vandalized. In Ozuaku, Abia State, a vandalized pipeline was under repair.
Additionally, the NNPCL disclosed that ten facilities used for storing stolen crude oil were discovered in various locations in the Niger Delta during the past week.
The company mentioned the discovery of more storage facilities in locations such as Ogborode, Ugborodo, and Kwale in Delta State, Tomble and Emuoha in Rivers State, and Yenagoa in Bayelsa State. In Ozoro, Umuosonwu, and Patani in Delta State, vehicles carrying sacks of crude oil were apprehended, and their contents were confiscated.
The statement concluded by noting that eighteeen wooden boats carrying stolen crude were seized this week in Rivers, Delta, and Imo states. These incidents were spread across various regions, with nine in deep blue waters, 23 in the western region, 67 in the central region, and 50 in Nigeria’s Eastern Region.