Operation DELTA SAFE reduces threats to Oil and Gas industry, says DHQ*Demobilize 1,423 illegal oil refining sites

The Defence Headquarters said on Thursday that threat posed by  militancy, pirates, communities/oil companies conflicts to the Niger Delta  Oil and Gas industry has been reduced.

It said that Joint Task Force South – South Operation DELTA SAFE (OPDS) has drastically reduced the security challenges that once  threatened  the Niger Delta and it’s  Oil and Gas industry which is the main economic pillar of the nation.

Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko, the Acting Director Defence Media Operations who was last week elevated to the rank of Major General but yet to be decorated said at a media briefing in Abuja that the anti-Crude Oil Theft (COT) efforts of the Joint Task Force during the year was remarkable .

The efforts “led to the demobilization of about 1,423 illegal oil refining sites (each of which contains many camps), over 4,929 storage facilities and 536 large wooden boats, popularly called ‘Cotonou boats’ among others,” he said.

It’s operations also resulted in the arrest of “13 ships laden with crude oil cargo, 9 barges, 137 trucks and other types of vehicles conveying illegally refined products.”

“Additionally, about 40 million litres of crude oil and 67 million litres of illegally refined products mostly AGO were recovered from the criminals.”

About 567 suspects were arrested in connection with various crimes, he said, and added that the suspects and exhibits have all been handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agencies for prosecution. 

According to him, some of the arrested suspects have been convicted, while others are still undergoing trials in various courts of law.

He also stated that the Task Force during the year conducted several clearance operations  on militants’/Pirates’ camps and that  about 51 such camps were completely destroyed while 153 assorted weapons as well as large number of various calibre of ammunition were recovered from the criminals.

He said that due to the sustained clearance operations on sea robbers/pirates and other criminals’ camps  in Niger Delta and Nigerian Navy operations in the  high seas the number of sea robbery and pirate attacks in   waters as well as the Gulf of Guinea respectively, have drastically reduced.

 According to him, “in 2021, there were 28 reported cases of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea which forms part of Nigeria’s waters while within the same period, only 4 attacks were recorded in Nigerian Waters. “

The non-kinetic conflicts containment and resolution efforts of the Joint Task Force are also yeildying results. According to him,not less than54 Corporate Social Responsibility-related heated disputes involving oil companies such as; SEEPCO, SPDC, AITEO, NECONDE and NAOC among others, with their host communities were amicably resolved.

The impact of these are beginning to manifest in confidence building and trust between the host communities, military and oil and gas companies in the region, he added.
He  assured that the JTF will sustain its anti-COT efforts in 2022 and push harder until the crime is totally eliminated.