The latest discovery was said to have been made in a joint operations with the military task force based on intelligence gathering on the illegal activities going on in that area. It was reported that members of the cartel who specialise in crude oil theft siphoned large quantities into ocean going vessels from where they sailed abroad.
It was observed that the professional manner in which the pipes were clamped on the abandoned platform belonging to Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited (NAOC) clearly established the case of oil workers’ collaboration in the crude oil theft in the region as oil thieves lacked the technical know -how to carry out such fabrication.
The location said to have been in use over the last three years was where the members of the cartel openly pump crude oil into their vessels from the nation’s trans-forcados pipeline, located a short distance away from a military check point at Ogulaha in Burutu Local Government of Delta State.
SPDC operates the Forcados Terminal in Ogulagha which has a nameplate capacity to export 400,000 barrels per day. It takes delivery of crude from the Forcados Oil Pipeline System and is the second largest pipeline network in the oil-producing region after the Bonny Pipeline System in the eastern Niger Delta. This latest discovery is similar to the earlier one where 4-km pipeline was clamped to the same Trans–Forcados Export Trunk Line and buried underground is used to siphon crude oil to waiting vessels.
Narrating how the discovery to newsmen, a Marine Intelligence Consultant to TSSNL, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, said: “What has happened was that the perpetrators of this organised crime attached pipeline to a Shell Petroleum Development Company 48-inch export line. The crude in this line has been cleaned up and is ready to go.
Meanwhile, the discovery and closure of a second illegal export pipeline by agents of Tantita Security Services Limited, belonging to Chief Government Ekpemupolo has been commended by the Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari.
Mr. Buduwara Zakariya, General Manager of NNPCL’s gas development division, who inspected the discovery pipeline, commended Tantita Security Services and other stakeholders for a job well done. He said that the Group Managing Director made the decision to send a delegation to the scene in order to reassure Nigerians that NNPCL is taking action to combat the problem of crude oil theft.
“NNPCL has been facing challenges and with stakeholders, it’s time to bring stability to the host communities and they have been trying to secure all oil and gas facilities, especially the ones that have to do with crude evacuation line,” he added.
Oil thieves had reconnected the Mobil Nigeria Limited-run pipeline, which extends for one kilometre to the shore and another four kilometres to the loading area at Ogulagha in the state’s Burutu local government area, in order to steal crude oil and load it onto ships.
Captain Warredi Enisuo, a Marine Intelligence Consultant for Tantita Security Services Limited, disclosed this while leading Mr. Buduwara Zakariya, the General Manager of the Gas Development Division, and other officials to inspect the site on behalf of Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director of Nigeria Petroleum Development Company Limited.
He claimed that the 48-inch Trans Forcados export trunkline was linked to the illegal pipeline that had just been found a few days earlier.
“The illegal pipeline was connected to another abandoned pipeline located nearby that is owned by Agip Petroleum Company Limited,” Captain Warredi Enisuo said.
“These organised criminals hooked up to a 48-inch Shell export line. The crude is now ready for export after being cleaned up. It is quite expensive. They tapped into it to siphon the crude.
“But technologically, they were able to connect their own pipe under water and we throtted the line to the point where it was tapped,” he explained.
He asserted that oil thieves chose to export crude oil to a jacket by connecting theirs through a riser out into the jacket, where they export the stolen crude oil, despite the fact that Agip Petroleum Company Limited owned the oil field, which had been idle for some time.
According to Mr. Kestin Pondi, managing director of Tantita Security Services Limited, the illegal pipeline was being monitored with a lot of resources.
He warned oil thieves not to enter the area under Tantita Security Services’ control, noting that Chief Government Ekpemupolo, the company’s chairman, has zero tolerance for the threat of crude oil theft.