12 December 2011, Sweetcrude, Yenagoa – The activities of operators of illegal refineries in the Niger Delta have increased in recent times in spite of the sustained attack on the locations of such refineries by operatives of the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta codenamed Operation Restore Hope.
Though the nation special security forces had in the last couple of months destroyed no fewer than 2000 of such outfits known for pumping the adulterated killer kerosene and diesel Into the market and further compounding the woes of the already fragile environment more illegal refineries have continued to spring up in the mangrove swamp of the region.
Most unemployed youths in the region and ex militants clamouring to be included in the federal government amnesty programme have taken to the illicit but lucrative trade blamed for the spate of pipelines vandalization and crude oil thieves.
The rise in the number of these illegal refineries in region is now a source of concern to the Department of Petroleum Resources.
Head of the department in Bayelsa State, Dr. Duncan Eradiri, who spoke at the maiden edition of the meeting between DPR and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria noted with regret that emergence of illegal refineries had affected quality of petroleum products in the region.
Some retail outlets he lamented were selling adulterated Kerosene and other petroleum products owing to their patronage of illegal refineries.
Pleading with the marketeers to recertify the qualoty of products before selling to cosumers he said, “The Department is appealing to all marketers to desist from patronising such products for sale at their retail outlets and also recertify quality of products before selling them to consumers.”
According to him, over five cases of kerosene explosions resulting in first and second degree burns had been recorded in the state but said none of them had been associated with a filling station.
“The operators of retail outlets and the regulators have a very vital role to play by being vigilant to avoid pushing the cooked up product to the market”, he pleaded and blamed insufficient supply of refined products in Nigerian on the state of the nation refineries.
“We are all aware that petroleum product supply into the country is through importation by NNPC, major marketing companies and some private companies, of which NNPC is the major importee. Despite the number of companies that do import these products into the country, it is not sufficient for the local market. This is as a result of the failure of our country’s four refineries to produce enough petroleum products to serve the country”, he said.
He warned marketers against increasing petroleum pump price saying that the price per litre of fuel remained at N65.
“The price still remains at N65/litre. We therefore want to appeal to all marketers, not use the inadequacies of the petroleum product supply situation to shortchange the public in the guise of buying petroleum products in the open market at N67-N71/litre.