From Ekaete Ikubor
The Nigeria Navy in collaboration with the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) has intensified fight against oil theft as they launched a special operation to stop oil thieves from further sabotaging the nation’s oil and gas installations.
This was disclosed by the chief of naval staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, while speaking at the launch of the operation codenamed “Dakatar Da Barawo,” which means ‘stop the thief’ in Hausa language, in Onne, Rivers State.
Gambo, who was represented by the chief of policy and plans, Rear Admiral Suleiman Garba, blamed the nation’s economic downturn on attacks on oil and gas facilities by saboteurs.
He said about 40 warships, 200 gunboats; five helicopters, members of the Special Boat Service (Special Forces) and several other units would participate in the three months operation.
He said, ”Operation Dakatar Da Barawo in collaboration with the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) would identify where the problem (breach on pipelines) was”.
“Secondly, we will track the oil thieves and secure the pipelines for economic prosperity of the country.
“The NNPC is concerned by the reports in the past few months of massive theft of petroleum products purportedly from the pipeline to (illicit) vessels resulting in huge revenue losses”.
The naval chief said the Navy under his command was fully committed to eliminating all acts of criminalities in Nigeria’s maritime environment and the Gulf of Guinea.
He said, ”We will use this operation to dominate the nation’s backwaters through aggressive and intelligence driven patrols. The operation will be used to monitor pipelines; block identified strategic estuaries, with focus to preventing the conveyance of stolen crude oil from inshore to sea. The navy will also maintain a credible presence along the coastline of areas prone to crude oil theft”.
Gambo maintained that the Navy Special Forces aided by aerial surveillance would conduct clearance operations to curb oil theft and illicit dealings in petroleum products in the country.
He said the newly acquired Falcon Eye system had further enhanced the Navy’s regional maritime domain awareness capability.
“The system was used to monitor MT Queen of Peace for one month, leading to its eventual interception on March 15 of over three million litres of suspected crude oil,” he noted.
There have been increasing cases of oil theft in Nigeria with resultant revenue losses to the country with some big players in the oil and gas industry becoming very vocal about that.
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), in its audit report made to public in July 2021, indicated that in 2019 Nigeria lost 42.25 million barrels of crude oil to oil theft, then valued at $2.77 billion, an improvement on the 53.28 million barrels stolen in 2018.
Earlier in February, the CEO of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), GbengaKomolafe, said that Nigeria was currently losing/ 150,000 barrels of oil a day, worth about $4billion annually, to criminals who illegally tap pipelines.
In March, Founding MD/CEO of Seplat Energy and executive chairman, AA Holdings, Austin Avuru, had warned that Nigeria’s oil production has reached an emergency critical status, adding that some oil production wells don’t get to see 80percent of production making it to the terminals due to oil theft.