Officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), the Nigerian military and the ministry of petroleum resources have announced a new collaboration to stamp out oil the growing oil theft and pipeline vandalism.

The announcement yesterday came after an on-the-spot assessment of the activities of oil illegal refiners and broken pipelines in parts of Rivers state, last Wednesday by a federal government delegation.

The delegation was led by minister state for petroleum resources, Chief Timipre Sylvia, the chief of defence staff, General Lucky Irabor and the chief executive officer of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Eng Gbeng Komolafe.

At Ibas community in Emohua LGA in Rivers state, the delegation witnessed illegal refineries burnt down by the military. The minister said apart from causing huge issues for the country, the criminals were also destroying livelihoods of locals and environment.

To solve the problem, Sylvia said “the communities must be involved, the security agencies must be involved and the third arm, which is the operating publics must also be involved. I want to let everybody know that these criminals have their days numbered, because the country has lost so much from their activities,” he said.

Also speaking, the chief of defence staff, Gen Lucky Irabor, said in carrying out Mr. President’s directives to contain losses from those criminals, the military will deploy a different strategy and a new drive by pursuing not only the criminals, but also their sponsors.

“We are not only zeroing on the criminals, but also those who are supporting them,” the chief of defence staff stated.

In his own remarks, the chief executive officer of the NUPRC, Engr. Komolafe, described the acts of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism as a national disaster and the perpetrators as criminals.

“For those who want to do legitimate business, there are clear government regulations on how that is done. But what we have seen here today are criminals and their activities will no longer be tolerated,” he said.

On his part, the GMD of the NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari explained that the scale of crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the community was beyond explanation, adding that all hands must be on deck to contain the spate of losses in the country.

While appreciating the current leadership of the military, Kyari expressed confidence that through the collaborating effort of government security agencies, host communities and oil and gas firms operating in the area and with the deployment of the right technology, the menace would be contained.                 

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