Nigeria: Oil Theft - Again, Nigerian Troops Uncover Illegal Oil Bunkering Sites in Delta

4 September 2023

Troops had clamped down on similar sites about a week ago.

Troops of the Nigerian army have again uncovered 12 illegal oil bunkering sites in Owahwa Creek, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, South-south Nigeria.

This is coming barely one week after troops of 3 Battalion clamped down on "active" illegal refining site in Enokora, a community in Burutu Local Government of the state.

The army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement on Monday, said the latest illegal oil refinery sites were discovered on Saturday by troops of 181 Amphibious Battalion conducting anti-oil theft operations in the area.

Mr Nwachukwu, a brigadier-general, said the troops carried out the operation in collaboration with the personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

The army spokesperson explained that the operation was part of their ongoing "onslaught" against "saboteurs" of Nigeria's oil sector.

"In the crackdown, the vigilant troops discovered 12 active illegal refining sites, 60 crude oil cooking ovens, 14 reservoirs, six wooden boats laden with stolen crude and 470 sacks of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) concealed in the camps," he said.

Mr Nwachukwu said the troops also intercepted a vehicle conveying 25 polythene bags of suspected illegally refined AGO in Ogbodu, a community in Udu Local Government Area of the state.

Discovery, arrest

Mr Nwachukwu said, in a similar operation on the same day, troops of 3 Battalion intercepted two wooden boats ladened with stolen crude oil in Tsekelewu, a community in Warri North Local Government Area of the state.

"The troops also arrested two suspects in connection with the crime. Both suspects and the illegal products have been handed over to NSCDC personnel attached to Tantita Security Services for further action," the spokesperson said.

He said the army has implored Nigerians to report any suspected "act of sabotage or criminality" to security agencies to enhance ongoing operations to curb crude oil theft in the country.

Oil theft, illegal bunkering in oil-producing communities mainly in south-south Nigeria, and its negative impact on the country's economy have been a source of concern to the Nigerian government over the years.

The Federal government in August 2022 awarded a pipeline surveillance contract reportedly worth N48 billion per year (N4 billion per month) to Government Ekpemupolo, who is popularly known as Tompolo, to check massive oil theft in the region.

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