The Nigeria Navy in Port Harcourt says it has uncovered a huge mechanism installed in the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 18 wellhead being used to siphon crude oil into waiting barges.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) learned that OML 18 wellhead is owned and operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.
Commodore Sulaiman Ibrahim, Commander, Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, took newsmen to the site at Kala Ekweama community in Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers.
“The terrain (site) was discovered by our naval helicopter on routine aerial patrol of the waterways and creeks in our area of responsibility.
“Immediately after it was spotted, we deployed our gunboats to the site and kept watch of the facility to ensure the illegality perpetrated here is discontinued.
“The Nigeria Navy has put everything on the ground to ensure that it curbs illegal crude oil theft in the Niger Delta,” he said. Ibrahim said troops recovered from the already sabotaged facility, boats, equipment and other machines being used to steal crude oil from the wellhead.
“We have contacted the operators of OML 18 to send their technical team and skilled manpower but the team said the wellhead has been greatly compromised.
“So, all efforts to get products out (of the wellhead) has been quite difficult at the moment except higher skilled and technical team are brought in.
“However, we are fully on the ground and committed to curbing all activities of oil thieves in this general area and the region at large” he added.
The navy officer urged members of the public to come forward with useful information about anyone in their communities involved in oil theft and assured secrecy of their identity.He said the war against oil theft in the Niger Delta can only be won by security agencies with the support of the Nigerian people.
“Some people have alleged that military personnel connive with oil thieves, and I have on several occasions challenged them to name such personnel, so that they can be shamed,” he said. (NAN)