18 June 2012, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta codenamed Operation Pulo Shield yesterday identified the use of unregistered vessels, barges and powered boats to perpetrate illegal bunkering in the region as the most disturbing challenge militating against efforts at eradicating crude oil theft in the Niger Delta.
The commander of the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulon Shield, Major General Johnson Ochoga who disclosed this while briefing newsmen in Yenagoa said the development had made it difficult to identify barons behind the unending oil theft with a view to prosecuting them.
He said as a way of addressing the identified challenges and part of the overall efforts of the government to tackle oil theft and other acts of economic sabotage in the region, the JTF in collaboration with NIMASA had been directed to commence a comprehensive security documentation and registration of all vessels, barges and motorized boats operating in the region.
“The exercise is expected to commence from June 26-July 12, 2012”, he said, adding, “at the end of the regisation, a data bank of all vessels, barges and powered boats including details of their owners will be available to aid identification of syndicates behind oil theft and subsequent prosecution.”
He noted that during the regisation exercise, operators are expected to provide details of their vessels, barges or boats such as name of vessel, particulars including survey certificate, particulars of ownership (to include verifiable address of owners) and vessesls regisration particulars.
Others include, extract of vessel logbook for last 2 years, current tax clearance certificate, four colour passport photographs of owner and crew members and evidence of attachment/engagement by oil companies for those dealing oil.
The JTF commander warned that vessels, barges and motorized boats not registered until July 10, 2012 would be barred from operating on the waterways in the Niger Delta.
The move, he said was aimed at enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of the outfit in its effort to stamp out oil theft, illegal bunkering, illegal oil refining, pipeline vandalism and associated acts of economic sabotage against the oil and gas industry.
He however declared that the special security outfit had in the last five months destroyed over 802 illegal refineries, 21 vessels, 85 barges, 293 Cotonou boats and surface tanks with total capacity of 17,501,320 litres of products in the region and apprehended and handed over 86 suspects to the prosecuting authorities,