Crude oil theft: JTF impounds vessel, 2 barges, arrest 21 suspects

Illegal crude oil bunkering26 May 2013, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – The Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta codenamed Operation Pulo Shield has impounded Erishna Dolphin, a vessel allegedly involved in crude oil theft in the creeks of Bayelsa State.

Media coordinator of the JTF, Lt. Col Onyema Nwachukwu said the vessel, Erishna Dolphin, was intercepted by troops of 343 Regiment of Sector 2 JTF along Obi Creek in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.

Nwachukwu in a statement made available newsmen in Yenagoa said the impounded vessel is being secured by operatives of the task force pending recovery to Brass terminal.

He also disclosed that eleven oil theft suspects operating two barges laden with 7,500 and 500,000 litres of adulterated Automated Gas Oil illegally distilled from stolen crude oil were arrested respectively at Bakana creek and Abonema water front in Rivers State by troops of 146 Battalion of JTF, Sector 2 for engaging in oil theft activities.

The JTF Media Coordinator said, “the barges which are now secured at Abonema Wharf were intercepted during one of the anti-oil theft patrols carried out by Gun Boat troops of the Battalion.

“The suspects have been taken into custody by Headquarters Sector 2 to help in preliminary investigations, after which they will be handed over to an appropriate agency for prosecution.”

According to him, “in similar anti illegal oil bunkering and anti pipeline vandalism operations, a total of 21 illegal oil distilleries and 41 pumping machines have been scuttled in Ondo, Edo and Delta states.

“Fifteen of the illegal distilleries were discovered along Takula Creek and Itakpe at the boundary between Ondo and Delta states where 40 steel surface tanks and 25 pumping machines used in the illegal trade were scuttled.

“Other items scuttled at the site include 426 plastic tanks and 10,645 drums used to store adulterated Automated Gas Oil distilled from stolen crude oil.

“Three other camps used for illegal distillation of crude oil were also scuttled in Gbelebu village in Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo state, while three of the illegal oil distillation camps which had 138 plastic tanks of 7500 litres capacity each, 23 steel surface tanks, 16 pumping machines, 3 electricity generating set, 1 welding machine were discovered by JTF patrol Team of 3 Battalion, Sector 1 at Otumara, Obe/Jesse communities of Delta state.

“Forty five open boats conveying stolen petroleum products were also intercepted by troops of 3 Battalion, Sector 1, along Okogho and Ajosolo in Jesse, Ethiope West Local Government Area of Delta state and Agedagba Akotobo, Itakpe Bolowo of Ondo State. During the entire operation which was carried out from 17 to 24 May 2013, a total of 21 suspects were arrested for oil theft and related crimes.”

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