Port Harcourt — The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre, YEAC-Nigeria, has cautioned the Armed Forces, clamping down on oil thieves in the Niger Delta, to consider the environmental implications of destroying illegal refineries and burning vessels carrying stolen crude in the region.
The caution may not be unconnected to the recent razing of an oil vessel, MT Tura II, caught with 800,000 barrels of stolen crude oil by the military in Delta State as well as the planned destruction of 80 drums of illegally-refined Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, or diesel intercepted by the Nigerian Army in Port Harcourt.
Executive Director of YEAC Nigeria, Mr Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, said the group, through its Network on Organised Crime in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea, has received and verified information about ongoing renewed joint armed forces’ operations against artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta with intense actions in Asari Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State in recent days.
Fyneface, who is also the National Facilitator of Project with Artisanal Crude Oil Refiners for Modular Refineries as alternative livelihood opportunities in the Niger Delta, called on the Federal Government to use both carrot and stick approaches in the war against artisanal refineries in the Niger Delta.
He further explained that while YEAC-Nigeria was not against the onslaught by the military to stop crude oil theft and illegally refining activities, caution must be taken in disposing stolen crude and illegally refined products, in order not to further degrade the already polluted Niger Delta environment.
He said: “Reports have it that serious actions have been taking place in Krakrama Community in Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State in recent days with many illegal artisanal refinery sites destroyed with further massive implications on the environment, fisher-folks and farmers’ livelihoods.
“This renewed action against artisanal refineries which is being reported on the heels of alleged new directive to the Armed Forces comprising of the Army, Navy and Air Force to destroy all the illegal refineries across the Niger Delta, runs concurrently with the pipeline security contract that the impact of their operations in relation to recent vessels confiscated and set ablaze were not also good environmental-friendly practices.
“I support actions that would reduce environmental pollution through the discontinuation of pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, artisanal refining and associated environmental pollution, but adding to the already polluted and fragile Niger Delta environment in the process of stopping artisanal refineries is not the best thing to further do.
“In carrying out the mandate, the Armed Forces should join our advocacy on pollution-free environment by not destroying the illegal facilities and spill petroleum products into the environment but ensure environmental-friendly practices in disposal, mainstream environmental and human rights-based approaches in their operations to mitigate further negative impacts of their activities on the environment and the people of the Niger Delta.”
While describing the Armed Forces operations and pipeline surveillance contracts as the stick approaches, he said issuing the approved 18 modular refinery licenses for artisanal refiners and establishing the Presidential Artisanal Crude Oil Refining Development Initiative, PACORDI, was the carrot approach.
“PACORDI, just like the PAGMI scheme for artisanal gold miners in Northern Nigeria, will modernize, legalize and integrate artisanal refineries into the national economy; serve as the carrot approach and alternative livelihood opportunities for artisanal refiners displaced from the stick approaches to mitigate increase in other organized crime in the region and the Gulf of Guinea,” he stated.
Follow us on twitter