April 21, 2024

‘Why upsurge in theft of crude oil may persist’


Adebayo Obajemu

Professor Andrew Gyang , a professor of petroleum engineering has blamed lack of diligent prosecutions of arrested culprits, political consideration and sundry primordial sentiments for the upsurge in cases of illegal and criminal theft of Nigeria’s crude oil.
He spoke to EnergyDay against the backdrop of the arrest by the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe operating in the Niger Delta, of 17 suspects and the impounding of two vessels laden with over 500,000 litres of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil popularly known as diesel.

According to OPDS, the vessel, MV King James was impounded with 400,000 litres of AGO, while MV Messiah 1, was caught with 100,000 litres of illegally refined AGO, as both of them were intercepted at the Federal Ocean Terminal in Onne, Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Speaking, the Commander, Naval Component of OPDS, Rear Admiral John Okeke, said the petroleum product was seized by troops of the JTF, and handed to the Nigerian Navy Pathfinder.

Gyang said federal government was not serious about the incessant thefts which annually cost the country billions of Naira in losses, warning that the trend would continue until stiffer measures were put in place as deterrent.
Speaking in the same vein, Dr. Olufemi Omoyele, of the department of entrepreneurship studies at Osun State University, noted that, ” This phenomenon of continuous stealing of our crude oil is a cause for concern. Personally I believe government has not done much to confront the challenge, even as it has put billions into safeguarding the pipelines, it’s yet to take drastic measures by way of severe punishment for those caught sabotaging our oil and gas economy.

Okeke assured that the 17 arrested suspects would be handed over to appropriate authorities for possible prosecution.

He said that the vessels have no naval approval and no legitimate documents to allow her to carry products.

“The OPDS which I represent for the Navy is the statutory agency for oil approvals, it means that when a vessel is found without a requisite document it has defaulted,” he said.

Hr enjoined those indulging in oil theft, illegal refining and illegalities to stop and to look for legitimate businesses to do or be prepared to face the full wrath of the law.

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