Navy Arrests 2 Suspects for Alleged Oil Theft in Bayelsa

*Host communities oppose FG’s plan to move crude by trucks, badge

sOlusegun Samuel in Yenagoa and Sylvester Idowu in Warri

The Nigerian Navy has arrested two suspected oil thieves, one tank truck used for crude oil theft and a Mazda saloon car loaded with 1,300 illegally refined products, in Bayelsa State..
The Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship SOROH (NNS), Commodore Sunday Lakan, stated this yesterday, while parading the suspects, the truck and the vehicle before newsmen at the base of the NNS SOROH, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

The Commander had earlier  assumed duty on February 19, 2024, after taking over from Commodore Olushina Ojebode.
He said under the mandate of the Chief of Naval Staff and the mandate of Operation Delta Safe, the NNS SOROH had continued to carry out patrol in all areas within Bayelsa.

He said acting on credible intelligence, they received an information of products being stolen and transported from illegally refined site.
“Our men were dispatched to the area and reaching the scene, this truck behind me was arrested with suspected crude oil stolen from a well head.
“However on sighting our men, the driver of the truck abandoned the truck and ran away, but he left the key behind. We were able to convey the truck to the base for further investigation and necessary action.

“So, while still on patrol, we arrested this other vehicle mazda 323 with products tied inside sacks suspected to be illegally refined AGO popularly known as diesel and kerosene about 1,300 litres.
“Also we arrested two suspects, a male and a female, conveying the products and we arrested them back to the base, and thorough investigation will be carried out,” he said.

He assured Nigerians that all procedures will be followed and all those arrested will be handed over to the appropriate authorities or agency for further investigation and necessary action.
The Commander, said that the truck was coming from Biseni area, under Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa. The well head, he said , is under the Nigerian Agip Oil Company.

He urged those involved in illegality to desist from it and look for legitimate business to do, because the law will surely catch up with them sooner or later.
The commander said he was seeking cooperation from the lawful citizens of Nigeria to assist the military in carrying out operation to curb crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal refining as they they cause a lot of damage to the country economy.
One of the suspects Mr Nelson Adeh, said he was a driver who was only transporting the products for the arrested lady from JK4 community to Mbiama before the Navy van arrested him.

He pleaded for forgiveness and promised to never indulge in such illegal business again if granted bail.
Meanwhile, the board of trustees of Community Development Committee of Niger Delta Oil and Gas Producing Areas (CDC) has opposed plans by the federal government to transport crude oil from point of production to export terminals by trucks and badges as alternative to traditional pipeline method.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of CDC, Joseph Ambakederimo, in a statement issued yesterday, said the body is opposed to barging or trucking crude oil to export terminals as being proposed by the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).

The group noted that the idea of barging or trucking had been used in the past and jettisoned when it was discovered that crude oil was being diverted to unknown places by those who were contracted to convey the product.
It maintained that the idea as suggested by the commission was archaic and would give room for manipulation and more loss of crude oil.
“The suggestion to barge or truck crude oil to export terminals was as disappointing as it was an unwise suggestion coming from the NUPRC who are regulators in the Nigeria upstream oil and gas industry.

“This idea of barging and trucking of crude oil has been used sometimes in the past and jettisoned when it was discovered that oil was being diverted to unknown destinations by those whom were contracted to convey the products. The idea being suggested is archaic and it will give room for manipulation and more loss of crude oil”, the group stated.

Nigerians, CDC maintained,  have a penchant for abusing processes, insisting that the use of pipelines cannot be controverted as the most cost effective means of transportation of crude oil and refined products when considering the distance from field of production to terminals for export.

“We are complaining of high cost of production of crude oil as the highest in the world which has become disincentive to attract new investments to the sector, by this suggestion from NUPRC, if implemented it will certainly be a death knell to the sector. It’s like adding more petrol to the fire. We must streamline our measures to align with the president’s executive order recently sign.

“The recognition of the president to the many issues impeding new investments in the sector is commendable and should be supported by all well meaning Nigerians”, it added.

Reiterating that giving up on the pipelines now is an indication that all the agencies of government have failed, CDC insisted that pipelines were the safest form of transportation of crude oil and others as of today and in many years to come.

“What needs to be done is constant enlightenment of the communities of the implications of oil theft on the economy of the nation and the environment. This is what the CDC is advocating including providing alternatives and incentives to attract the unlicensed refineries operators to look away.

“There must be incentives that should be dangled before these group of individuals that will be attractive. Bombing the refineries is not the solution. Government should be thinking of alternatives to divert their attention away from oil theft”, it added.

The group lambasted the state governments in the Niger Delta region from shying away from development of the oil producing communities thereby fuelling the agitation of those unlicensed operators of refineries to eke a living and develop their areas themselves.

CDC offered it’s services to the federal government to help curb the issue of oil theft adding

“The CDC is at the disposal of the government to secure the pipelines. We have had fruitful collaborative meetings with some relevant government agencies where we have identified the lack of collaboration amongst all of the relevant agencies of government as the root cause of the unabated trend that has continued. We have identified everyone working in silos without a strategic plan of action”, it added.

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