Port Harurt — Officials of the European Union, EU; the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd, NNPC; and the Joint Task Force, under Operation Delta Safe, have visited illegal refineries sites in Ahoada West Local Government Area of Rivers State for an on-the-spot assessment of the impact of their operations on the environment.
The visit, according to the EU, was imperative to assess things for themselves, especially to ascertain how crude oil thieves set up illegal refineries and the adverse impact on the communities, the environment and the economy.
The Deputy Director General, European Union Commission, Mr Mathew Baldwin, said they were on fact finding mission, adding that oil theft and illegal refining remained a big problem.
Baldwin commended the Joint Task Force, JTF, and the NNPC, on their resolve to salvage and restore the Nigerian oil and gas sector.
“We are here to find out and understand the problem, if the production is used for the local market and if most of the production is going into the international market,” he said,
Also speaking, Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, assured that the breaches on oil production will soon be curtailed, adding that the site visit by the development partners was necessary to ascertain the situation and how they could help bring sanity, restore oil production and security for everyone.
“I commend the troops on ground, working to ensure that the nation’s oil and gas sector is secured. We believe by August we will be able to bring down the menace to a minimal level. It is not good for the community. It has a huge negative impact on the environment.
“Today, the livelihood of the people here are impacted/ People doing the business are not from the community/ They are actually from other places.
“We are working with the community to take this out so that they can go back to their normal way of life.
“We are also ready for our partners to see things for themselves and the efforts that are being made to curtail the situation. We are happy we are here today to see things for ourselves and our partners,” he said.
On his part, the JTF Operation Delta Safe Commander, Rear Adm. Aminu Hassan, said the taskforce has destroyed more than 2,000 illegal refineries in the Niger Delta region within the last three months
He said: “In one site here you can get between 50 to 100 composite units where everyone is operating; just like a market, everybody is doing his illicit business in one market. So, that is how they operate.
“Within a refining site, you can get hundreds of units, everyone doing his own, within a week or thereabout you can succeed in destroying thousands. Mechanically we are destroying their machines which they are very fast in constructing.
“If you really want to suppress them, you must be faster than them, work ahead of them, that is why we introduced this equipment, you will be on top of the situation to be ahead of them”.
Follow us on twitter