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Nigerian Navy deploys 40 ships, 5 helicopters, 200 gunboats to curb oil theft in Niger Delta

The Nigerian Navy yesterday (Friday,  April 1, 2022) commenced what is evidently its biggest operation aimed at putting an end to oil theft and illegal refining in the Niger Delta, with the deployment of 40 ships, five helicopters and 200 boats for “Operation Dakatar Da Barawo” (stop the thief) across the region.

On the same day, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), Mallam Mele Kyari, assured Nigerians that with this special Naval operation against oil theft in the country, Nigerians would begin to see measurable results in two to three weeks.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Planning, Naval Headquarters, Abuja, Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, while flagging off “Operation Dakatar Da Barawo” on board the Nigeria Navy Ship, Okpabana, in Onne, Rivers State, said the move was to intensify previous efforts, as the nation was bleeding as a result of huge losses to the menace of oil theft.

He revealed that Nigeria lost about $3.2 billion in the last 13 months to crude oil theft and illegal bunkering.

Gambo disclosed that “Operation Dakatar Da Barawo” was in collaboration with Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and that it confirms the Nigerian Navy and NNPC’s collective resolute and deep commitments to end the menace of crude oil theft, illegal oil refining and other insecurity within the nation’s maritime environment.

The CNS appreciated the contributions of Kyari and his staff for helping to activate the operation, which he said would last for three months. Gambo stressed that the Nigerian Navy on its part, has over the years undertaken several operations geared towards ensuring unhindered exploration and exploitation of the nation’s maritime resources for economic growth and national development.

The CNS assured that the Nigerian Navy under his watch remains committed to eradicating all acts of criminality in Nigeria’s maritime domain and by extension, the Gulf of Guinea for the economic wellbeing of the people.

He assured that “Operation Dakatar Da Bararwo would involve dominating the nation’s backwaters through aggressive and intelligence driven patrols.”

He added:

“It would also be dedicated to monitoring pipelines, block identified strategic estuaries to prevent conveyance of stolen crude oil from inshore to sea and to maintain credible presence along the coastline of areas prone to crude oil theft.

The CNS assured that the Nigerian Navy under his watch remains committed to eradicating all acts of criminality in Nigeria’s maritime domain and by extension, the Gulf of Guinea for the economic wellbeing of the people.

He assured that “Operation Dakatar Da Bararwo would involve dominating the nation’s backwaters through aggressive and intelligence driven patrols.”

He adds: “It would also be dedicated to monitoring pipelines, block identified strategic estuaries to prevent conveyance of stolen crude oil from inshore to sea and to maintain credible presence along the coastline of areas prone to crude oil theft.
“This initiative became necessary considering the recent reports of massive revenue losses which compelled all efforts to be emplaced to curtail the wanton crude oil theft and illegal bunkering of crude oil in the nation’s maritime environment.

“The operation would also involve aerial surveillance, as well as insertion of special forces to conduct clearance operations.

“The vast expanse of the nation’s maritime domain coupled with limited capability of maritime security and law enforcement agencies, including the complex nature of maritime threats, make it expedient for maritime stakeholders to emplace more robust collaborative engagement to surmount these crude oil theft, illegal oil refining and other maritime security challenges.

“We are bringing at least 40 ships, between 100 and 200 Navy boats, also we are deploying between four and five helicopters, some of which will be coming and going throughout the period and all Navy Special Forces and units will also be involved to make sure the operation is successful.”

Earlier in his remarks, the Flag Officer Commanding Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Idi Abbas said the essence and the need for the operation was to deal with the prevailing rise in crude oil theft and operation of illegal refineries.

He said: “In a recent report, the statistics presented at a meeting between the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Oil Producing Outstretched Section and Independent Petroleum Producers Group, showed that Nigeria lost about $3.2 billion between January 2021 and February 2022, to oil theft.

“The development has brought crude oil production below OPEC approved local price, as well as benchmark of Nigeria’s 2022 budget.”

The Managing Director, Port Harcourt Refining Company, Ahmed Dikko, who represented Mele Kyari, noted that the country was losing huge amount of money to oil theft, adding, “We will not like to tolerate any more of this and we had to do anything we can to make sure it stops.

“So, NNPC is really worried and reached out to the Nigerian Navy and we are ready to support the Nigerian Navy anyway we can so we can conduct special operations and make sure that we bring this menace to the barest minimum today.

“We are open to supporting the Nigerian Navy in any way possible to ensure the success of the operation. The situation we have today with crude oil theft and illegal bunkering of crude oil activities is impacting seriously on NNPC’s operations.”

The Group Managing Director of the NNPC yesterday assured Nigerians that with the strategies currently being deployed to halt the massive oil theft in the country, Nigerians will begin to see measurable results in two to three weeks.

Speaking during the presentation of the ISO 22301 certificate to the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) and the launch of the Electronic Materials Management Solution (EMMS) in Abuja, the NNPC helmsman described oil theft as disruptive to its operations.

“As we speak, there’s massive disruption to our operations as a result of activities of vandals and criminals around pipelines in the Niger Delta area. This has brought down our production to levels as low as we have never seen before.

“Today, we are producing less than 1.5 million barrels per day, simply because some criminals decided that they should have some infractions on our pipeline. And that clearly is the biggest form of business disruption that we’re facing today,” Kyari said.

He stated that enormous work was going on with relevant government security agencies and community leaders to ensure an end to the menace.

“I am very optimistic that within the next two to three weeks, we will see very measurable outcomes, so that our businesses can continue. Also, as we speak, the Nigerian Navy is carrying out a massive operation to contain oil theft in the Niger Delta,” he stated.

According to him, the whole essence of the intervention is to ensure that every asset available to the Nigerian navy will be deployed with the support of the industry players to make sure that the problem is arrested.

Less than three weeks ago, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company (AEEPCO), operators of the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) pipeline, threatened to exit the facility due to incessant vandalism, sabotage and outright theft.

A Co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Seplat Energy Plc, Austin Avuru also recently called for a state of emergency in the Nigerian oil and gas sector, revealing that up to 80 per cent of oil pumped in the country, particularly in the East, is stolen.

Incidentally, Avuru’s comments came days after a businessman and Chairman Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, similarly bemoaned the worsening state of the industry, stressing that about 95 per cent of oil produced does not get to the terminal.

Likewise, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele, who spoke at the end of the 284th monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja, blamed the trend of oil theft for the inability of Nigeria to meet its oil production quota.

Incidentally, Avuru’s comments came days after a businessman and Chairman Heirs Holdings, Tony Elumelu, similarly bemoaned the worsening state of the industry, stressing that about 95 per cent of oil produced does not get to the terminal.

Likewise, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele, who spoke at the end of the 284th monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja, blamed the trend of oil theft for the inability of Nigeria to meet its oil production quota.

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