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.
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.
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.