Oil Theft: JTF, surveillance contractors intensify crackdown on vessels

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Kenechukwu Obiajuru, Yenagoa
A joint operation by troops of the joint military force deployed to protect oil facilities in the Niger Delta has confiscated a thug boat ‘Aya Oba Olori II and a barge Christened ‘Rampage 13’ laden with over 200,000 litres of suspected stolen crude.

 

Residents in Bayelsa coastal communities, Wednesday applauded the collaboration between the Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to the Niger Delta and Surveillance contractors for tracking down oil theft.

A Community leader, Chief Dona Biena of Akassa in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa said that the renewed effort was putting oil theft in check.

 Biena who commended the joint military force for improved patrols of the waterways said the development has also reduced the incidents of sea pirates.

 According to him, the joint patrol by JTF and local surveillance groups led to the seizure of the barge on March 17, 2019.

 The community leader noted that the local surveillance group, Labrador Security leveraged on its knowledge of the terrain in the creeks and provided intelligence and logistics to the troops of the joint force to nab the oil thieves in the act.

A member of the surveillance group who participated in the operation said that the vessel was being pushed by a tugboat named ‘Aya Oba Olori II’ when it was apprehended.

 It was gathered that the barge and tugboat were initially anchored at Labrador Security base in a coastal town at Bille and handed over to Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps on March 25.

Reacting to the commendation, Commander of the JTF, Rear Admiral Suileiman Apochi said that that oil production figures from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation had indicated an upward swing in production in the past three years.

 Sulaiman said that the country’s oil production had increased to 2.2 million barrels per day from 900, 000 barrels per day because of the significant progress recorded in the fight against pipeline vandalism, militancy, and kidnapping, among others.

The force commander said that oil production rate had fallen to about 900,000 barrels per day three years ago just before the JTF was reorganised and repositioned for improved performance.

 “As at the time we took over the leadership of this operation, the oil production of the country was at 900, 000 barrels per day.

“Today, due to our operational activities and commitment to providing an enabling environment for business to thrive, oil production has increased to 2.2 million barrels per day.

“Many oil firms have come here to commend us for providing them with the enabling environment for the oil business to thrive.

“We have received such feedback from Agip, which at a time, had shut down due to unsustainable levels of oil theft.

“We shall continue to do the best we can in line with our mandate of ‘Operation Delta Safe’, which is essentially to protect oil and gas infrastructure.

“We shall also deter and prevent militancy, sea robbery, and any other forms of criminality within the joint operation area, which will impact positively on the economy of this country.

“We shall always remain committed to this mandate; that is why we are encouraged to do more in providing security in the region,” he said.

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