Wednesday July 31st, 2013
The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta
code-named ‘Operation Pulo Shield’, said it has arrested 608 suspected oil thieves in 594 raids carried out between January and June. The JTF spokesman, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Yenagoa that oil theft was consequently on the decline.
“So far, we have carried out 594 illegal oil bunkering patrols, and several arrests have been made. In the two quarters we are talking about, we’ve scuttled about 748 illegal refineries within the region and we have impounded 24 seagoing vessels; we equally arrested 133 barges involved in oil theft. And 861 giant open wooden boats popularly referred to as Cotonou boats have been scuttled over this period.
“About 910 large surface tanks, which oil
thieves engaged in illegal refineries use
to reserve the crude have been scuttled.
We’ve taken into custody about 608
suspects who are involved in oil theft and oil theft related cases.’’
On the rate of oil theft, which reportedly
led to a combined shut-in of 190,000
barrels per day production in Bayelsa,
Nwachukwu said that the JTF was making a positive impact. The spokesman said: “Of course, we stepped up our operational activities and I assure you that oil theft now is going down.
“Two major pipelines were shut down
and before these pipelines were actually
shut down, our patrol troops had reported breaches on these pipelines. And if the oil companies had reacted in time to these reports, the breaches would have been clamped, and it would not have resulted in this entire shutdown of the pipelines. So, I would say that if you fly over the entire area, you will find that most of the illegal refineries that were in operation, that were alive in those days, have been shut down, completely; scuttled.’’
Nwachukwu said that the JTF was making progress in its campaign against oil theft because of support of residents and community leaders in the oil-bearing communities.