The Nigerian Navy has discovered 15 illegal refining sites with the capacity to process 2.7 million litres of crude oil per day in Rivers State.
The Commander of Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, Commodore Desmond Igbo, made the disclosure when he led journalists to the illicit refining sites in Degema, Rivers State, on Friday, February 9, 2024.
Igbo said the naval officers made the discovery as part of the ongoing Operation Delta Sanity, recently launched by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogala, to combat oil theft.
He said: “The uncovering of the illegal refining camps was made in line with the renewed mandate to combat and eliminate crude oil theft from the country.
“Upon receiving the CNS mandate, troops were deployed, and they uncovered 15 illegal refining camps, each equipped with six cooking pots and metal storage tanks.
“Each storage tank has the capacity to hold about 30,000 litres of crude oil, culminating in about 2.7 million litres of crude oil illegally refined in the 15 sites.
“It’s unfortunate that unpatriotic Nigerians are stealing from the country, but we are here to stop these illegal activities from continuing.”
Igbo stressed that the discovery of the illegal refineries was a significant breakthrough in the Federal Government’s efforts to rid the country of oil thieves and economic saboteurs.
He added: “The oil thieves steal the crude oil from wellheads and then proceed to refine it into adulterated petroleum products for sale to unsuspecting members of the public.
“It is unfortunate that these illegal activities have continued, considering that crude oil is where Nigeria gets most of her revenue.
“But some unscrupulous citizens engage in this act of sabotaging the nation’s economy through their nefarious engagement in this criminal enterprise.”
Igbo, however, said no arrests were made during the raid, noting that the labourers in the illegal refineries fled the area on sighting the advancement of naval officers on several gunboats.