Nigeria Cracks Down on Oil Thieves
The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta on Thursday announced that it handed over a vessel, MV LAME to the management of Sea Tide Marine Ltd. The vessel had been earlier seized for suspected involvement in illegal bunkering.
The vessel was reportedly impounded on July 9, 2013 by JTF along Bonny Anchorage and was alleged to have been loaded with about 100,000 liters of illegally refined AGO or diesel.
A JTF spokesperson explained that investigations revealed that the product was unadulterated AGO which prompted the order the release of the vessel and the crew. A representative of Sea Tide Marine received the vessel and crew during the handing over ceremony which took place at the Bonny Anchorage recently.
Separately announced was the seizure of a barge laden with suspected stolen crude and the destruction of nine illegal refineries in multiple raids on oil thieves. The raids were carried out within the last ten days.
The barge, Dera 1, intercepted along Brass creek in Bayelsa, is in custody of the JTF. The vessel and crew will be handed over to the prosecuting agency after preliminary investigations are concluded.
In another raid, JTF troops destroyed eight illegal crude oil distillery camps where oil thieves operated along Tebidade Brass Agip pipeline in Bayelsa. Five crude oil and AGO dumps filled with suspected stolen crude and illegally refined AGO were destroyed during the operation.
Additionally, the Maritime Component of the JTF patrolling Okpumani creek intercepted two wooden boats containing product suspected to be stolen crude oil. Also seized and destroyed on site were two pumping machines in an abandoned well head and a fiber boat.