Yenagoa - The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta on Friday denied complicity over oil theft as Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) said the menace was threatening its operations.
The SPDC had threatened to shut its Nembe Trunk line because of rising incidents of oil theft within its pipeline network in Bayelsa.
Mr Mutiu Sumonu, the Managing Director of SPDC, on March 4, urged the JTF to step up its activities to reduce oil theft, currently standing at about 60 000 barrels daily.
Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, the JTF spokesman, however, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Yenagoa that the outfit was recording significant success in the fight against the illegal activities.
According to him, the facts at our disposal are that from January 2013 to date, 260 suspects, eight vessels, nine barges and 90 boats have been arrested.
``We have also destroyed 452 illegal oil refining points. The JTF has not in any way relented in its task of combating oil theft in the region.
``The statistics peddled by SPDC is very doubtful, they should look inwards as their staff possessed the expertise to crack and clamp and not the JTF,” Nwachukwu said.
Nwachukwu said the JTF had adopted a robust strategy in combating oil theft and illegal oil bunkering activities at various stages.
According to him, this include advocacy, enlightenment campaigns, surveillance of oil installations and pipeline network.
``Crude oil theft involved a complex network from the source, where crude is stolen, transported, refined and distributed.
``We recently raided a distribution centre in Yenagoa and destroyed the warehouse, where the products are stored.
``It is a continuous exercise aimed at making crude theft cost-ineffective, thereby, discouraging it,” he said