The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder destroyed an illegal refining site in the creeks of Rivers State’s Degema Local Government Area.
Commodore Desmond Igbo, Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, showed journalists around the location on Wednesday and put the refinery’s capacity at over a million litres.
The Commander described the scope of the operation, which he described as stealing oil from the wellhead and transporting it to an illegal reservoir.
“This is NNPC OML-18 being managed by NNPC and Sahara. You can see how these criminals went over there and rigged a hose, that hose is almost 18 inches from the oil well head. They rigged it from there,” Igbo stated.
“You can see the crude flowing down to where they have their reservoir and constructed illegal refinery where they cook it. This is economic sabotage to the Nigerian economy.”
He claimed that the Nigerian Navy is enlisting the help of local communities in combating the threat, but that no arrests have been made thus far.
Igbo bemoaned the involvement of youngsters in illicit oil bunkering and encouraged the area’s paramount chiefs and authorities to call their youths to order.
“When we come with our gunboats, they ran away. But we are still going to trace them and trace those who are sponsoring them.
“They cannot just come here without having big people behind them. We will put down our intelligence and make sure we trace their sponsors,” he added.
The tanks were destroyed with a swamp buggy, and the illegal hose was clamped by technicians.
In the Niger Delta, the struggle against crude oil theft is a never-ending war between security forces and economic saboteurs.