Port Harcourt — Six vandals suspected to be responsible for last Sunday’s fire outbreak on the Nembe Creek Trunkline, operated by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, were burnt to death on the spot, the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, OPDS, has said.
Recall that on Sunday, April 21, 2019, Aiteo reported a fresh fire incident on the NCTL, forcing the company to shut down the 150,000 barrels per day pipeline.
Spokesperson of the firm, Mr. Ndiana-Abasi Matthew, confirmed that the fire had been completely put out while assuring that plans were underway for mobilisation of specialised equipment to the swamps for further remedial action to facilitate a quick return of the pipeline to full functionality.
But, JTF Commander, Rear Admiral Akinjide Akinrinade, while inspecting the site of the incident at Awoba area along the 97-kilometre Nembe-Bonny oil export pipeline, said troops of the JTF deployed to the area responded immediately the incident occurred.
Akinrinade, who visited the site of the explosion where the fire destroyed vegetation stretching to hundreds of metres along with Rear Admiral David Adeniran, Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, expressed regret over the development.
He explained that troops on surveillance at a nearby houseboat who arrived the scene confirmed that all the vandals who breached the pipeline under high pressure died from the explosion and fire that followed.
On arrests, he said that although the vandals died in the act, efforts were underway to track their collaborators because the criminals involved in oil theft usually operated in groups.
“I am here for an on-the-spot assessment following the fire incident on the Nembe Creek Trunkline, which is a critical national asset, and to restate our commitment to protecting oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.
“This incident has adverse economic implications and the military high command is concerned, that is why I am here with my component commanders and we shall continue to provide security to the oil firms.
“I assure the oil firm of security to ensure that the breached point on the line is traced and fixed,” the commander said.
The JTF boss also assured that, Operation Delta Safe would redouble its efforts against oil theft and pipeline vandalism and assured oil firms in the Niger Delta of safety of their personnel and facilities.
Meanwhile, the remains of the suspected oil thieves were currently being recovered in the creeks when the commander visited the area.
It should be noted that Aiteo had on March 1, 2019 shutdown the NCTL, which was later reopened on March 6, 2019, following an explosion from a wellhead in Nembe creek which also resulted in a fire incident.