Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Nigerian Navy, said that the nation lost over a whopping 277,040, barrels of crude oil through illegal oil bunkering activities in 2019.
This was as the nation also lost about 223.1million liters of Automated Gasoline Oil(AGO), and 1.2million liters of Dual Purpose Kerosene(DPK), at the same time.
Chief of Training And Operations (COPP), Rear Admiral Mackson Makonju Kadiri, who made this known during the first quarter media briefing held at the Naval headquarters in Abuja, said the Navy has carried out a number of operation to curb those activities.
According to him, the activities of Operation River Sweep launched early January 2017, was primarily informed by noticeable increasing activities of illegal refiners, particularly in Delta and Rivers States.
He said “The Operation involves air surveillance, insertion of special forces by gunboats, pulling down of illegal refining sites with the use of swamp buggies as well as arrest/destruction of boats and badges found in such locations”.
According to him, “for instance in 2018 alone, a total of 637, illegal refining sites were destroyed by the operation. “Furthermore, a total of 104 speedboats and 340 suspects were arrested for involvement in either COT/illegal bunkering or smuggling.
“In summary, the quantum of crude oil lost as a result of illegal refining activities in 2018, was estimated at about 277,040 barrels, while about 23.1million litres of AGO, 212,610 litres of PMS and 1.2million litres of DPK were lost”.
To ensure the safety of the nation’s waterways and rid it of all criminality, Kadiri, said the Nigerian Navy now embarked on round the clock surveillance of the waterways using the Regional and Maritime Awareness Capability(RMAC), and Falcon Eye facilities in addition to the use of vessels and helicopters.
He said the Navy so far has a total of 24, Maritime Domain Awareness(MDA), centres strategically located across the Nigerian coastline.
“These centres ensure effective surveillance of all vessels in our territorial waters whether fitted with Automatic Identification System(AIS), or not.
“Due to their availability, Navy patrols are now more mission oriented hence, the attendant reduction in operational logistics costs.