06 March 2013, Yenagoa – The Joint Task Force, JTF, in the Niger Delta code named Operation Pulo Shield, says though it does not have the manpower to position operatives permanently to monitor crude pipelines spanning over 6,000km across the mangrove swamp of the Delta, it had recorded major successes in its fight against crude oil theft in the last 15 months in the region.
Reacting to claims by Shell Petroleum Development Company that oil thieves were setting up tank farms and barge building yards, JTF, through its spokesman, Lt. Col Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement, said: “We are fighting a good fight in combating the menace of oil theft in the Niger Delta. This is evident in the number of successful interceptions and arrests that we had made, not only in 2012, but even in the two months that we have spent in the new year.
“Last year alone, 7,585 anti-illegal bunkering patrols were conducted. A total of 18 vessels and 1,945 suspects were arrested while 4,349 illegal crude oil distilleries were destroyed. Also destroyed were 133 barges, 1,215 open wooden boats (Cotonu boats), 187 oil theft tanker trucks, 178 illegally distilled fuel dumps as well as 5,574 surface tanks.”
On Shell’s claim that oil thieves were setting up tank farms and barge building yards, he said: “I suppose that the oil companies are stakeholders in the security of Nigeria’s oil sector and there should to be a synergy between them and security agencies in the country including the JTF, which is at their beck and call, wondering why the oil companies were not giving security agencies such information.”