Saturday, 4 February 2017

Navy destroys 40 illegal refineries in Niger Delta, arrests five

The Nigerian Navy has destroyed 40 illegal refineries, equipment and petroleum products valued at N3bn in a special operation in the Niger Delta.

The Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Adm. James Oluwole, disclosed this in Port Harcourt on Saturday at the conclusion of the first phase of “Operation River Sweep I.”

Oluwole said the operation which began on Jan. 8 and ended Feb. 4 aimed at tackling spate of oil theft and vandalism of critical oil and gas installations, especially along Bonny–Onne channels in Rivers.

According to him, two warships, NNS Ologbo and NNS Burutu, eight gun boats and helicopters participated in the 28-day operation.

He said, “Operation Rivers Sweep was activated on January 8 to stem the tide of increasing and disturbing reports of illegal bunkering in Onne general area.

“Over some months now, we have discovered that lots of illegal refineries are operating within the area with stealthily and specially designed dug-in canoes moving stolen petroleum products.

“In the operation, two vessels MV Lewis Ejiro and MV Lady Swithin were impounded while 40 illegal refineries, 60 large wooden and speed boats loaded with 5.24 million litres of diesel were destroyed.

“Other items recovered by troops included three generators, 16 pumping machines, two welding machines, three outboard engines and two hoses.

“The total estimated loss for the destroyed illegal refineries and other equipment is about N3 billion”.

Oluwole also said that five suspected oil thieves were arrested during the operation and handed over to relevant prosecuting agencies.

He said the operation was successful due to the use of Swamp Buggy machines which completely crushed metallic tanks and denied oil thieves ability to revive the destroyed refineries.

According to the FOC, the operation had reduced spate of attacks on oil and gas installations and sea piracy, particularly in the Onne and adjoining creeks in the area.

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