By Omon-Julius Onabu
The continued illegal oil bunkering and other related criminal
activities in the Niger-Delta have remained a major headache of oil
and gas multi-nationals operating in Nigeria with America oil giant,
Chevron, practically raising the alarm over the weekend.
According to reports on the incidents by the General Manager, Nigerian
National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)/Chevron Nigeria Limited Joint
Venture, Mr. Jide Ajide, the spate of criminalities in the area has
actually been on the increase since the beginning of 2013.
Ajide‚Äôs disheartening report came into focus during the two-day visit
of the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral
Sidi Usman, to relevant formations in Warri and neighbouring coastal
areas that ended at the weekend.
The anxiety expressed by Chevron operations experts and field
operators is coming against the backdrop of repeated assurance from
security agencies, especially the Joint Task Force (JTF), also known
as ‚ÄúOperation Pulo Shield‚Äù, that they are working round the clock to
stem the tide of oil theft in the region.
Indeed, the JTF which had been undertaking surveillance of the region
has continued to claim that that criminalities and illegalities in the
creeks of the Niger-Delta had significantly decreased due to its
However, while briefing Usman and other senior naval functionaries in
Warri, the Chevron chief noted that the incalculable damage continued
to be done to the Nigerian economy due to the persistent criminalities
and illegalities especially in the company‚Äôs area of operation.
Ajide, in what appeared like an SOS to the Navy and security agencies,
observed that the activities of vandals and illegal local refineries
have continued to thrive around the operational area of Chevron at
He said although the frequency of the theft had dipped about three
years ago, at least 43 ruptured points occasioned by illegal bunkering
had been uncovered by Chevron‚Äôs surveillance team in the course of
using helicopter to monitor the field.
He further blamed widespread incidence of pollution and devastation of
the ecosystem in the area on the activities oil thieves and illegal
Ajide lamented, ‚ÄúThe Joint Task Force (JTF) has been here this year –
I don‚Äôt know how many times now – I think more than 10 times; but if
you go all around us here you‚Äôll see illegal refineries. A number of
times the JTF had come to disturb them and burnt down the places, but
they devise a new method of starting their operations at night. From
7.00p.m, you‚Äôll see the smoke till morning.
‚ÄúWhat has not reduced or which reduced and later came back is oil
bunkering. Between 2007 and 2008, they were stealing between 30 and
35,000 barrels of crude oil per day from our pipelines. It later came
down with the assistance of security personnel including the JTF. It
was brought really down three years ago, but this year, it has gone
way back up. So far this year alone, we have uncovered about 12 new
bunkering points. Within a year, we have uncovered about 42 or 43
bunkering points. As we try to cut off one, shut down and seal another
one, they come up with another.
‚ÄúVandalism has not stopped. We experienced it about four times when
they vandalized pipes and oil spilled everywhere. Just yesterday
(Thursday), they were cutting one up, at the bottom, another. It has
been very challenging battling them. We still need additional help to
tackle oil bunkering which is not just disrupting our operations and
dwindling government‚Äôs revenue in the process, but also polluting the
environment. Because anywhere they carry out their acts, by the time
you fly around, you see oil spilled everywhere. More than 95 oil
spillages you see around is being spilled by illegal refineries and
‚ÄúIllegal refineries are all around here. We need your help in any way
you can help us to fight this menace because they are polluting the
environment and destroying the ecosystem. Without you people helping
us and protecting us here, we would not be here by now.‚Äù
Ajide however pointed out that although the complicity of some staff
of oil companies in the illegal activities has been alleged, the fact
remained that technology abounds everywhere today coupled with the
fact that the perpetrators might have worked in oil companies.
Meanwhile, Admiral Usman, who barely two weeks ago assumed the
position of FOC, Central Naval Command with headquarters in Yenagoa,
Bayelsa State, has warned oil thieves that it would no longer be
business as usual as the Navy was poised to halt the spate of illegal
bunkering and other criminal activities in the region undermining the
economy of the country.
To arrest the disturbing spate of illegal bunkering ad related crimes
in the country, President Goodluck Jonathan had, last week in ABUJA,
called a meeting of oil and gas stakeholders to rub minds on the way
out of the problem, which the president admitted has been punching
holes in the nation‚Äôs treasury and taking huge¬† toll on the Federation