Home » Army Busts Illegal Oil Refinery, Seizes 5 Million Liters of Crude

Army Busts Illegal Oil Refinery, Seizes 5 Million Liters of Crude

Nigerian army raids a massive illegal oil refining camp in Rivers State and seizes five million liters of stolen crude oil

by Victor Adetimilehin

Nigerian authorities have uncovered a massive illegal oil refining camp and seized five million liters of stolen crude oil in Rivers State, a major oil-producing region in the country.

Troops from the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army carried out the raid on Wednesday, based on credible intelligence reports.  The camp was located along the Mirinwanyi channel of the Imo River at the Komkom area of Oyigbo Local Government Area.

Maj.-Gen. Jamal Abdussalam, the General Officer Commanding of the 6 Division, led the operation. He reported that the camp contained makeshift houses, 15 boilers, nine storage tanks, newly acquired pipes, and other expensive facilities worth millions of naira.

He stated that the stolen crude oil, reserved for processing, amounted to over five million liters. Additionally, the army encountered large Cotonou boats filled with crude oil on their way to the camp.

“This is in continuation of our operations to destroy all illegal refineries and illegal connections in our area of responsibility. Based on credible intelligence, this morning, our troops raided this location,” he said.

He described the illegal activities as “sad” and “dirty”, saying they posed a serious threat to the environment and the economy. He said the army would not relent in its efforts to clamp down on oil thieves and vandals, and urged the public to embrace legitimate businesses.

No arrest was made during the operation, as the suspects fled the scene before the arrival of the troops. However, Abdussalam said the army was following several leads to track down the culprits and their sponsors.

He also appealed to the state government and the relevant agencies to take over the site and the seized products and ensure their proper disposal.

Illegal oil refining is a rampant practice in the Niger Delta region, where local communities and criminal gangs tap into pipelines and wells to siphon crude oil, which they refine in rudimentary camps hidden in the creeks and forests.

According to a 2018 report by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the country lost at least $41.9 billion to crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism between 2009 and 2018.

The report also estimated that about 136 million barrels of crude oil were stolen from the country’s oil fields and pipelines during the period, causing huge revenue losses and environmental damage.

The Nigerian government has been struggling to curb the menace, deploying security forces and launching amnesty programs for repentant militants. However, the root causes of the problem, such as poverty, unemployment, corruption, and lack of development, remain largely unaddressed.

Some analysts and activists have called for a more holistic approach that would involve dialogue, empowerment, and accountability, as well as the protection of the rights and interests of the oil-bearing communities.

They also stressed the need for the government to invest more in renewable energy sources and diversify the economy away from oil dependence, as the global demand for fossil fuels declines due to climate change and green transition.

Source: Punch

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