Nigerian security force operating in oil rich Niger Delta region said that it had shut down 134 illegal crude refineries and seized two barges used by oil thieves.
Spokesperson for the Joint Task Force (JTF) Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, made the disclosure in a statement, saying the operation was carried out between November 22 and November 30 in southern states of Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta.
A suspected oil thief arrested during the crackdown was being interrogated, Col Nwachukwu said, adding that the troops uncovered and cracked down on 134 illegal crude oil distillation camps, 34 Cotonou boats and 36 pumping machines in Bayelsa State.
“We have also recovered 12 illegal oil dumps used by oil thieves in Igbematoru, Oyeregbene, Lasukugbere, Mbikiba and Ewesusho communities in Southern Ijaw, Brass and Nembe local government areas (LGAs) of Bayelsa,” he added.According to him, some of the camps were being regenerated by the oil thieves before the crackdown.
The military spokesperson added that a locally-fabricated steel barge containing products suspected to be illegally-distilled Automated Gas Oil (AGO) was also intercepted by the patrol team around Nembe 2 flow station.
Col Nwachukwu said the barge had been towed for safe custody.
Nigeria suffers a loss of billions of US dollars to illegal oil bunkering annually.
The country loses more than 150,000 barrels of oil to theft daily according to government statistics.
Oil theft, piracy and armed robbery in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea have been increasing in recent years, causing serious concern worldwide. (Xinhua)