Alakiri - The Joint Task Force (JTF) operating in the Niger Delta on Sunday said that it had adopted a new strategy in destroying illegal oil refineries in the region.
Lt.-Col. Olusegun Oladuntoye, the Commanding Officer of 29 Battalion of the 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Port Harcourt, said this during the destruction of an illegal refinery in Alakiri, Okirika Local Government Area of Rivers.
He said that the strategy involved the deployment of a “Swamp Buggy” machine, which crushed metallic tanks, thereby making it impossible for oil thieves to revive destroyed refineries.
Oladuntoye said that the JTF had redoubled its efforts to eliminate illegal refineries and attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta area.
“Based on intelligence reports; we have discovered that the war against illegal oil bunkering cannot be completed without thorough destruction of illegal refineries.”
“We have realised that whenever we burn down illegal refineries with metal tanks; some days after our troops leave the scene; the oil thieves would return and revive the refineries.”
“The destruction of illegal refineries with metal tanks and their subsequent revival have posed a challenge to our operations, aimed at ending the sabotage on the nation’s economy.”
“So, we have adopted a new strategy which involves the usage of `Swamp Buggy’ machines.”
“The machine totally crushes the metal tanks and makes it impossible for criminals to revive the refineries.”
“This method will go a long way in discouraging oil thieves from reviving destroyed and crushed illegal refineries because it would take them several months to revive the refineries,” he said.
Oladuntoye said that in spite of the new approach to discourage the revival of destroyed refineries; troops would also carry out a 24-hour surveillance patrol of the areas.
He said that the operation would continue until all the illegal refineries in the area were completely destroyed.
He, however, urged the public to provide the JTF with timely information that would lead to the apprehension of oil thieves and pipeline vandals.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Gov. Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta on January 3 reportedly said that Nigeria lost about 40, 000 barrels of crude oil to thieves daily.
The governor said that the country lost about N640 million daily, stressing that if pragmatic efforts were not made to stamp out crude oil theft, the country would lose about N233 billion annually.