Yenagoa - The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, Operation Pulo Shield, on Monday announced the seizure of two barges laden with stolen crude in Bayelsa.
The JTF impounded the two vessels in Kasabobo Creek during an anti-oil theft patrol in the creeks and water ways of Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
A statement signed by Lt.-Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said that the Commander Sector 2 Component of the JTF, Brig.-Gen. Osasogie Uzamere, ordered the operation, following reports of resurgence in the activities of oil thieves.
Nwachukwu said the ocean-going barges were heading toward international waters when they were intercepted.
“The barges, christened CWTC 16 and TIKORO 2 with eight compartments each, filled with stolen crude were intercepted by the troops while making their way into the international waters through Forupa channels.
“The troops also carried out raids on illegal crude oil distillers along Ogbenibiri, Kugbie and Forupa in Southern Ijaw, where they dismantled 8 illegal crude oil distillation sites and scuttled 7 steel reservoirs buried in the ground and concealed with canopies to prevent detection by troops,” the JTF stated.
In a separate operation in Rivers State, the anti-oil theft patrol team, carrying out surveillance along PPMC right of way, also arrested four suspects at an active illegal crude oil distillation site at George Kiri, near Bonny Island.
“21 drums containing illegally distilled Automated Gas Oil loaded in four 75HP OBM speed boats were recovered from the suspects.
“A cordon and search conducted around the illegal refinery site led to the discovery of a metal pipe connection welded on a PPMC pipeline.
"The suspects and recovered items have been taken into custody, pending further investigation,” the JTF said.
Also in an operation in Delta State, JTF troops have arrested seven pipeline vandals in Atiowowo, Kolokogbene and Ejere junction in Warri North and Warri South Local Government Areas of Delta, respectively.
“The arrest led to the detection and scuttling of five illegal distillation sites, 15 open wooden boats, 10 surface tanks and 112 drums.
"Also recovered from the suspects were a hand drilling machine, drilling pipe, hoses, hammers and cutlasses.
“The troops also closed down 19 dug-out pits filled with stolen crude oil.
"Two suspects were taken into custody during the operation and will be handed over to prosecuting security agencies at the conclusion of preliminary investigations,” the JTF stated.