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Crude Oil Theft on the Rise in Nigeria: 150 Incidents in One Week



The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) recently reported that from August 26 to September 1, 2023, there were a total of 150 crude oil theft incidents, with the majority of these occurring in Bayelsa, Rivers, Imo, and Delta States.

This information was conveyed through a video posted on the company’s official Twitter account on Tuesday, September 5.

According to the report, a significant number of incidents took place during that particular week in the Niger Delta, which is a major oil-producing region. Here’s a breakdown of the incidents detailed in the report:

  • Illegal Refineries: A total of 56 illegal refineries were located and subsequently dismantled, shedding light on the ongoing challenges related to unauthorized oil processing in the area.
  • Illegal Connections: Authorities uncovered 22 illegal connections, underscoring the need for vigilance in monitoring and addressing unauthorized access to critical infrastructure.
  • Vessel AIS Infractions: The report documents 9 instances of vessel AIS infractions, emphasizing the importance of maritime safety and security in the region.
  • Vehicle Arrests: Law enforcement agencies made 16 vehicle arrests, highlighting their efforts to maintain order and enforce the law in the Niger Delta.
  • Pipeline Vandalism Acts: A total of 7 pipeline vandalism acts were detected, underscoring the ongoing challenges posed by these activities, including environmental damage and economic losses.
  • Oil Spills: During this period, 3 oil spills were identified, drawing attention to the environmental repercussions and the need for swift remediation.
  • Wooden Boats: The discovery of 37 wooden boats raises questions about their purpose and potential involvement in illicit activities in the region.

In terms of geographical distribution, 9 incidents occurred in the Deep Blue Water area.

The Western region recorded 24 incidents. A significant number of incidents, totalling 50, were reported in the Central Region. The Eastern region of the oil-producing Niger Delta experienced the highest number of incidents, with 67 recorded.

The nature of these crude theft incidents

The report shed light on the intricate nature of crude theft operations in the region. It reveals that some of these illicit ventures involved the establishment of large crude pits for the storage of stolen crude oil. It was noted that certain culprits had resorted to packaging stolen crude in sack bags for subsequent sale.

These activities have wrought significant environmental havoc in the region, resulting from both the operation of illegal refineries and the presence of facilities for storing stolen crude.

According to the report, authorities uncovered a facility dedicated to crude oil theft in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state.

Meanwhile, in the various states previously highlighted, the report indicates the presence of illegal connections equipped with valves.

These findings underscore the sophistication of these illicit operations and the need to address both the immediate dangers posed by crude theft activities and their long-term environmental consequences.