The Nigerian Navy, NN, has destroyed assets worth over N30 billion belonging to illegal refinery operators in the Niger Delta, in its war against oil theft.
The Navy is making every effort to stop oil theft and unlawful refining in the area, according to Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, Director of Information, NN.
He stated: “As we speak, we have operation Dakata Dabarawo ongoing. The operation was launched by the Navy, in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited , NNPCL to stop the oil thieves.
“So far, we have been able to stop the thieves because the Navy has put a lot of the artisan refiners out of business. It takes a lot of money to set up an illegal refinery, meaning that the destruction is very negatively impacting to them.
“We have been destroying these illegal refineries, We usually collate the figures in my office. The last time we collated the figures, they amounted to over N30 billion.”
The NN spokesman also disclosed that the Navy has requested Equatorial Guinea to release a supertanker, MV Heroic Idun, to face investigation in Nigeria.
The tanker was arrested previous week for allegedly trying to steal Nigeria’s crude oil at Akpo oilfield and is currently held in Equatorial Guinea.
According Ayo-Vaughan the tanker arrested in Equatorial Guinea did not steal Nigeria’s oil, but was stopped by the Navy.
He stated: “The vessel was detected within our maritime space 85 nautical miles from the coast, that is about 170 kilometers southwards, within our Economic Exclusive Zone, but in the international waters.
“The vessel disregarded a Navy vessel because the name of the vessel was not on the tanker nomination by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL. Navy officials said because it was not listed, the vessel would not be allowed to proceed, it disobeyed and sailed off.
“The vessel that went to accost it, NNS BONGOLA, is an inshore patrol vessel, meaning that its operations are inshore with limited endurance. It has to refuel after two days and could not pursue the MT Heroic Idun, which was a giant tanker. So, it went back, but we kept on tracking MT Heroic Idun”.
“The Nigerian Navy has a maritime awareness system, just like the CCTV, where the entire maritime space is monitored. There is a command control centre at the naval headquater.
The vessel spent about 20 minutes within the AGO/Apo oil field. So those that said she has spent about two months in Nigeria waters and that she has loaded 3 million barrels, I don’t know where they got that information. There was nothing like 3 million crude oil siphoned”.