Oil Theft: Tompolo’s Firm, Navy Set Seized Oil Bunkering Vessel Ablaze

•Niger Delta host communities tackle NNPC GCEO

Sylvester Idowu in Warri

Operatives of the Nigerian Navy and Tantita Security Services, a firm operated by Chief Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) last night set ablaze an illegal oil bunkering vessel arrested with stolen crude oil aboard in Escravos area of Delta State.

The vessel was arrested last Thursday, with seven crew members close to Escravos in Warri South West Local government area of the state.

At the point of arrest, about 600 to 650 cubic metres of illegally lifted crude oil in five compartments was said to be on board the vessel with registration number L85 B9.50.

The Nigerian Navy and Tantita Security Services personnel set the ill-fated vessel on fire at about 3 o’clock in the presence of journalists.

The Marine Intelligence Consultant for Tantita Security Services, Captain Warredi Enisuoh disclosed that the arrest was based on intelligence gathering disclosing that his security men, “monitored the space via satellite.”

He said records showed that the arrested Dutch vessel, sold to a Nigerian, had been variously, “used for moving crude oil illegally for years,” disclosing that she was scheduled to take the stolen crude to Tema in Ghana.

Enisuoh expressed delight that, “the operation of Tantita Security Services in collaboration with Operation Delta Safe, which is a government and private sector initiative, has yielded positive result leading to the arrest.”

Announcing the arrest of the vessel on Sunday, before her destruction yesterday, the Operational Head of Tantita Security Services Limited, Chief Ebipade Kari who led the operation confirmed that the interception was made after they received a tip-off.

“We got a tip off that a ship was loading at the Escravos axis. The Tantita security personnel went to the place and got the ship arrested.

“While I insisted that the crew must be taken to Oporoza in Gbaramatu Kingdom, where Tantita operational office is located. Their boss was begging me through the captain of the ship to offer me a bribe of N25m which he promised to deliver in dollars, so that I can let the ship go. But I turned down the offer,” he added.

Meanwhile, oil and gas host communities in the Niger Delta have called on the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mr. Melee Kyari, to stop oil theft as well as to name and prosecute those behind the menace or resign.

The communities lamented that increasing oil theft had again thrown the nation into a pitiable condition, reflecting high corruption index.

The Chairman, Board of Trustees of Community Development Communities of Niger Delta Oil and Gas Producing Areas, Joseph Ambakederimo, in a statement yesterday said the exposition of the four-kilometre-long oil pipe theft was enough for Kyari to have resigned his position.

He regretted that the revelation coming out from the oil and gas sector, the mainstay of the nation’s economy, had once again brought to the fore a country blighted with unimaginable level of corruption that is not abating.

“The revelation by the GCEO of NNPCL, Mele Kyari is enough for him to have resigned from his position or be sacked by the board. This has to be so because NNPCL is now a company that governed by the Companies and Allied Matters Act which must be managed by competent and people with proven character and managerial skills for profitability.

“The GCEO of NNPCL has been carrying on without any modicum of remorse. While responding to NASS committee and revelation of this illegal pipelines a couple of days ago shows a man that comes across as irresponsible on the discharge of his responsibility and leadership of a main revenue earning agency for the country,” he said.

Ambadekerimo noted that, though the revelation was not strange to the people of the region, it however behooves on those that made the discovery to reveal the perpetrators rather than presenting themselves as patriots just to hoodwink Nigerians again. 

“We need more and compelling disclosures from these persons that have overnight discovered these illegal pipeline because mobilising resources, equipment and materials to execute this project is not achieved in one day and people in the environs and officials of the IOCs and security services that are scattered all over the rivers and creeks want to now absolve themselves,” he added.

Ambakaderimo lamented that the promise of the attainment of three million barrels of crude oil per day by the NNPCL had become a mirage, adding that what Nigeria presently produces is less than one million barrels per day, which is far less than what it produced when GEMD assumed office.

“The Direct Sale-Direct Purchase (DSDP) scheme initiated by him (Kyari) has become a cesspit of corruption.

“We do not know how many barrels of crude oil is shipped out for refining and what volume of refined products are brought back into the country, who monitors and checks if the country is getting the commensurate amount of products and how many refined products are shipped back, and what other by-products is derivable from the refining process of the crude being shipped out and at what cost to the NNPC.

“All of the above are shrouded in secrecy and anytime questions are asked for clarification on these matters, we are always met with confrontations.

“Production cost reduction as promised under his (Kyari) watch is yet to attain any significant impact as cost of production of one barrel of crude oil still remains high due largely to many breaches in the tendering and procurement process of the international oil-gas companies as a result of interference from the headship of the regulatory agency such as National Petroleum Investment Services (NAPIMS) to line their pockets rather than save the country from financial hemorrhage,” he said.

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