Navy uncovers 9.6m litres capacity illegal refinery in Rivers 

… Seizes  210MT of crude oil 

*The 14 suspected oil thieves, including a woman, arrested by the Navy

Mkpoikana Udoma

Port Harcourt — The Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS, Pathfinder, has uncovered and dismantled 16 illegal refineries with capacity to refine 9.6 million litres of crude oil around Elem-krakama community in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The Navy also arrested 14 suspects, including a woman at the illegal refining site, who allegedly attached a 14 inches pipe to siphoned over 210 metric tonnes of crude oil from wellhead 15 within OML 18 operated by NNPC Ltd.

Speaking, NNS Pathfinder Commander, Commodore Desmond Igbo, said the suspects were arrested in the act of crude oil theft and illegally oil refining activities

Igbo said the recovered crude will be handed over the appropriate authority, while the suspects were immediately handed over to officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC for investigation and prosecution.

He said: “This is Elem-krakama in Degema LGA of Rivers State. Behind me is oil wellhead15 which is one of the NNPCL OML18 operated wellheads. You can see a very big 14-inch hose connected illegally to this wellhead15. And they are transferring crude oil to this big wooden boat also known as Cotonou boat.

“Each of these boats contains 700 metric tonnes of crude oil, the pipes are connected to the reservoirs through the 4-inch hose from there they will start cooking it. The cooking pots also contain about 1.5 million litres of AGO. This is not good for our country and for the economy. They have polluted the environment, they will tap from this oil well head and the excess will spill over and pollute the water body.

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“We have about 16 cooking pots within this illegal refining site and each of them contain about 600 thousand litres, which is quite huge. As you can see where they are tapping it from right from the oil wellhead belonging to NNPC Ltd.

*Aerial view of the illegal refinery in OML 18

“It is actually economic sabotage. The cooking pots, we are going to crush them and we have already told the operators of OML18  to clamp down the wellhead permanently, so that they can not come back and engage in it. We are hoping that they would do that and we will give them the necessary security and safety they would need to do that.

“The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral  Emmanuel Ogalla, has mandated us and we are not deterred, we will continue and we will ensure that oil theft in Niger Delta become a history. We will continue both day and night. We will not rest on our oars we must stamp it.”

The NNS Pathfinder boss further urged youths involved in oil theft and illegal refining activities to look for another means of livelihoods, warning that the Navy will not rest on its oars in stamping out all forms of oil theft from the Niger Delta.

“I have talked with their leaders, paramount chiefs and their community leaders, but it seems they are not relenting and we will not relent too. We will hand them over to the appropriate prosecuting agencies, we will ensure that justice prevails. They will not get away with it, we will monitor the court trials and processes in this case.

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“The message is still the same, they should talk to their children to desist from these illegal activities. This is economic sabotage.  It is not good for them, their community and the country’s economy. They must desist from it,” he added.

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