BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME Asst News Editor

WARRI:  A joint investigation  visit  comprising of regulatory agencies ,  Chevron Nigeria limited has attributed the cause of the  April 20 fire  on Ojumole oil well  to third party interference.

Vanguard   gathered that an environmental monitoring by independent environmental consultants was ongoing   in the area and  Chevron was working with contractors to put an end to the inferno.

One of the illegal oil refining sites

Meantime,   activities of oil thieves in the Niger Delta have  continued to pollute the environment and  impact negatively on oil production  in the country. There have also been recorded cases of attack on oil well heads in the region.. Findings  showed   it was  what  happened to the Ojumole well.

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Some community stakeholders in the oil and gas sector who spoke to the Vanguard called  for  concerted effort on the part of  community  and other relevant stakeholders to put an end  to activities of oil thieves in the  Niger Delta region, saying that situation  where blames were  heaped on the door step of oil giants will not resolve the challenge.

Records show  the  nation was currently losing about 300,000 to 400,000 barrels of crude to oil theft daily. The United Nations  Security Council reported that the nation lost about $2.8 billion to oil  theft in 2017 alone.

In simple calculation it  means that the nation currently loses about $ 1.7 billion monthly to oil theft.  There are artisanal refineries  across various creeks in the Niger Delta where illegal crude  are refined in crude form and pushed back into the local  economy for consumption. There have been reported cases of fire outbreak , fire burns traced to these illegal crude in several homes .

Recently Sector 1 Command, Operation Delta Safe, OPDS,  smashed   illegal refining activities on a stretch of about twenty kilometers  in Ughelli area of Delta state.

Storage tanks, Cotonou boats and several facilities used  by the oil thieves for the illegal oil refining activities were among items destroyed   by the security operatives with swam buggies deployed  for the operation which lasted about two weeks.

At a recent  stakeholders conference on building advocacy against oil theft organized by a Non Governmental Organisation, NGO, New Nigeria Foundation, the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, called for security cameras to be installed around oil facilities to check the activities of oil thieves. This may be one way out of the  ugly situation currently depleting the nation’s revenue and  massively  polluting the  environment across the length and breadth  of the Niger Delta region.

In Rivers state there have been cries against black sooth arising from the activities of the oil thieves operating  artisanal refineries. This problem has also spread to virtually all sections of the Niger Delta region.

In Kokodiagbene community, Warri South West local government area, locals complained that fishes have disappeared from  their river which hitherto was home to all kinds of rich sea food. “ You cant believe we now buy our fishes from Warri . You can see oil  pollution all over the surface of our water “, they said.

It is a sad  story in the region. And urgent steps should be taken to change this ugly narrative. The federal government muted the idea of modular refineries, this may also help when it fully comes on stream .

What is urgent is that steps should be taken to save the nation’s economy, environment  with an end to activities of oil thieves..

It is no joke when oil companies lose  about 300,000 to 400,000 barrels of crude  to activities of oil  thieves in a country daily.

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.