The Nigerian Navy has advised oil prospecting companies with abandoned oil wellheads in the Niger Delta to begin a process of deactivating such facilities to help make the fight against oil theft and environmental degradation easier.
Commander Officer, NNS Delta, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, gave the advice after a naval operation in Uobodede community, Warri South council area of Delta state when he led his men to storm and abort an oil siphoning ring that have stolen crude for months.
It was learnt that some suspected oil thieves had mounted a pipe on an abandoned oil wellhead and were stealing crude oil unhindered with knowledge of some community members.
Commodore Dewu warned that stopping the flow of oil from these abandoned facilities required expertise hence the oil prospecting companies would do well to deactivate them or be termed accomplices.
Dewu, who recently took over the Command of the NNS Delta, also urged the federal government to assist the navy by compelling the oil companies to do all that would be necessary to deactivate the abandoned facilities.
He charged the media and other stakeholder organizations to assist with the required enlightenment campaigns to the communities in the area, who were engaged in the illicit activities.
Explaining the effect of the activities of oil thieves and operators of illegal refineries on the environment of the Niger Delta, Dewu said an urgent action should be taken by all stakeholders, especially the oil companies, to stop the unfettered access of oil thieves to crude oil from abandoned oil facilities.
“We were informed that the criminals that normally operate these illegal refineries have connected a pipe to an abandoned wellhead and then siphoning crude through that pipe, which is buried underground, up to several kilometers away, where they have their storage tanks and pits where they store the crude they have stolen and use for illegal refining.
“They have also set several other pipes with which they pass the illegal refined AGO to the boats waiting at the waterfront to be loaded.
“We had to go with engineers to disconnect the pipe that is connected to the wellhead, after which we destroyed the storage pits and the refineries. We are equally concerned by the pollution being caused by these pipes connected to these abandoned wellheads.
“Our call to the oil companies is to assist to either monitor these abandoned wellheads, since they are aware of them and know where they are, or do something about blocking them deep down to the point where they cannot be tapped. That’s number one.
“Secondly, it is a challenge to us stopping these illegally tapped abandoned wellheads whenever we discover them; we always need experts with equipment to be able to stop the flow, seal and remove the pipe.
“Government should help compel the oil companies while the media and other organizations should also assist in the enlightenment of the communities and the people around these facilities, who are engaged in these illegal acts”, Dewu said.
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