Operation Delta Safe conducted airstrikes that successfully obliterated over 30 operational illegal oil refining sites located in Cawthorne Channel and Bille, within Rivers State’s Degema Local Government Area, according to the report.
Also, storage tanks, reservoirs, and Cotonou boats suspected of stealing crude oil from a flow station were destroyed in the operations.
Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, the Air Force Spokesperson, announced on Sunday that in the last two months, over 30 illegal refining sites were eliminated in the Bille and Caawthorne areas.
The statement read,
- “Air strikes conducted on Cawthorne Channel and Bille, both located in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State, proved successful as seven illegal refining sites were identified and destroyed.
- In Cawthorne Channel, four active illegal refining sites with dug-out reservoirs and surface storage tanks suspected to contain illegal refined products were sighted on September 15, 2023.
- Subsequently, the sites were destroyed.
- “Similar air strikes were also conducted at Bille on September 16, 2023, and in the early hours of September 17, 2023.
- There, three illegal oil refining sites with storage tanks and reservoirs were destroyed. In one of the sites, a Cotonou boat suspected to be siphoning crude oil from a flow station was engaged in several passes and destroyed.
- “In the last 2 months, Cawthorne Channel and Bille have accounted for the majority of oil theft and illegal oil refining activities in Rivers State.
- Within this period, over 30 illegal oil refining sites in these 2 locations have been destroyed by the land, maritime, and air components of Operation Delta Safe.”
The Nigerian military continues to make moves to end the reign of oil theft in the country, particularly in the Niger Delta Region.
Earlier reports showed that the Nigerian Navy destroyed no fewer than 347 illegal refineries in the last five months.
According to the Navy, the proliferation of illegal refineries had been an enabler of crude oil theft because access to crude supply through vandalism of pipelines had kept the illegal artisanal refineries alive.
Speaking about oil theft in the region, the Director of Information at the Naval Headquarters, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, stated that host communities, traditional rulers and other leaders in the region had a role to play in the reorientation of the perpetrators, especially young people.
He said the menace posed a danger to the environment and was impacting negatively on the country’s revenue.
Described by numerous individuals and institutions as economic sabotage, the country’s oil theft crisis revolves around the reported daily pilferage of about 400,000 barrels of crude oil.
This relentless theft significantly chips away at Nigeria’s income from crude oil exports, the primary pillar of its economy.
Narrating the success of their operation so far in the region, Ayo-Vaughan said,
- “Since Operation Dakatar de Barawo commenced on April 1, 2022, the illegal refining sites that we have destroyed so far are 347, and we have arrested 143 suspects to date.
- The perpetrators are usually locals recruited by the main perpetrators in the crime and the proliferation of the illegal refining sites is in many ways fuelling the theft because it’s like a symbiotic relationship.”