Miffed by the audacity of some pipeline vandals in Lagos, operatives of the Nigerian Navy working under the Defence headquarters operations to clear the Lagos and Ogun areas of vandals, have shut down over 300 illegal oil wells in the Atlas Cove area of Lagos.
The wells, it was gathered, were dug above the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipelines transporting imported petroleum product from Atlas Cove to the Mosomi depot of the organization.
According to the military authorities, the wells were connected to the pipeline already punctured by the vandals and the wells now serve as reservoirs for fuel and other refined petroleum products from where the vandals can easily scoop the product.
A visit to the Atlas Cove area exposed a porous island inhibited mainly by West African nationals, with a mixture of few Nigerians, who operate in the area like “no man’s land.”
The vandals allocate the wells to themselves from where they scoop fuel, which they now sell to the open market.
They also spend resources to maintain the wells, as well as inscribe their names on them to prevent intruders from ‘stealing’ fuel from the wells.
Investigations revealed that residents of the Island now allegedly steal fuel from the punctured pipeline and dispose the product in the market at a very reduced rate.
Witnesses told Sunday Sun that the residents ravage the area unchallenged scooping fuel pumped from the Atlas Cove Jetty to Mosimi Depot of the NNPC, most times attacking persons who attempt to stop them from stealing from the state.
The vandalism, according to the Nigerian Navy, spanned 72 kilometres and extended to the Mosimi depot in Ogun State. As the pipeline travels, so the number of wells dug by the vandals to steal petroleum products.
Data from the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) ‘Monthly Financial and Operations Report,’ shows that 257 pipeline points were vandalized in December 2018.
Experts say this is an upsurge from the 60 vandalization points earlier stated and totalling 197.
The December figure, it was learnt, is also higher than the 219 pipeline points of petroleum products siphoned in October 2018.
The high-octane vandalized points, it was learnt, were in Atlas Cove-Mosimi network – 57, Ibadan-Ilorin – 90, and Mosimi-Ibadan – 69.
According to the data, Mosimi-Ibadan, Ibadan-Ilorin and Aba-Enugu were the source of 58, 35 and 34 points, respectively. The vandalization of the corporation’s pipelines did not halt the distribution of fuel during the Yuletide season, as it distributed 1.80 billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) – 58.17m liters per day.
According to the corporation’s report, the Petroleum Product Marketing Company (PPMC), an NNPC retail subsidiary, sold 1.96 billion litres of petroleum products.
This means there was increased demand in December, as the company sold more during the period.
In December, PMS made up the largest volume of demand, with 1.94 billion litres delivered. About 7 million litres of kerosene and 140 million litres of diesel were sold in December.
Between December 2017 and December 2018, PPMC sold 21.84 billion liters with PMS consisting of 92.36 per cent. In monetary terms, NNPC made N241.46billion from the sale of petroleum products in December 2018, compared to N146.5 billion sales in November 2018. From December 2017 to December 2018, the firm realised N2.8 trillion, and PMS contributed 89.63 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.5 trillion.
With the vandalism of the NNPC pipeline not abating, experts are skeptical on how the 2019 report of the NNPC will look like, especially as over 300 illegal oil wells dug by oil thieves litter the Atlas Cove area.
To tame oil thieves and close their oil wells, the Nigerian Navy operatives, working under a Defence Headquarters initiative tagged Operation Awatse have moved in to plug the hole of leakages at the Atlas Cove. The Western Naval Command of the force in Lagos called the operation a surgical clearance to rid the area of vandals and oil thieves.
The Flag Officer Command, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, said that the operation code-named Operation Kurombe, which means clearance in the Yoruba Language is conducted in line with the mandate and rule of engagement Operation Awatse.
The mandate of Operation Awatse, it was learnt, is to curb pipeline vandalism, crude oil and petroleum product theft, anti-kidnapping, anti-robbery, anti-cultism and other related criminal activities that would impact negatively on the security of Lagos and Ogun states; particularly the Epe and Ogun waterside.
This mandate, according to naval authorities, entails the protection of the critical NNPC pipelines, within the right of way of the pipelines from Atlas Cove to Mosomi where billions of naira has been lost to the activities of pipeline vandals.
“You will agree with me that Operation Awatse in the past had engaged in series of operations within the same corridor with huge seizures of various petroleum related materials from criminals. After several considerations and consultations, the DHQ deemed it necessary to embark on a surgical operation in order to sanitize the entire Atlas Cove and environs of all forms of criminality.
“Specifically, from the early hours of Saturday, December 21, 2019 till date, troops of Operations Awatse are engaged in surgical operation to dislodge pipelines vandals from NNPC facility at Atlas Cove and environs in Lagos.
“The NNPC facility is a strategic national infrastructure for reception of refined petroleum products for distribution across the country. During the raid, devices which include fabricated pipes and multiple hoses connected to the NNPC pipelines to illegally siphon petrol were discovered over 300 points along the pipelines and were subsequently dismantled,” Daji said.
Apart from closing up wells illegally dug by oil thieves to steal fuel from broken pipelines, the FOC said that during the raid, some foreigners were also found on the Islands without any form of documentations, adding that interrogations of dwellers by troops revealed that vandals collude with these foreigners to export the stolen products to neighbouring countries thereby short-changing Nigeria.
In view of these losses and other atrocities being carried out by vandals, Admiral Daji said that it became expedient to identify some illegal structures serving as hideout for the vandal and destroy them and sanitize the entire island of these mischief makers.
The enumerated areas indicated a total of over 200 illegal structures (shanties). Areas already surveyed for ongoing demolition include; Old Akinbo – 12 structures; Aditu–five structures; Phase 2 -17 structures; Ikate – 22 structures; Upstairs – five structures; Virgin Land – three structures; White House – three structures; Akaraba – 62 structures and Idi Mangoro –28 structures. Others are Waterside – 19 structures; Ilado –57 structures; Robert – 13 structures; Abule Glass – 21structures; Ilashe – 37 structures. So far destroyed are 462 illegal structures, 150,000 empty jerry cans discovered, over 5,000 jerry cans with PMS confiscated, 310 discovered well/pits with PMS and 21 canoes and two boats.
He assured legitimate residents of the Islands that for no reason will troops of Operation Awatse unduly harass or intimidate anyone as they are there to carry out the mandate of the operation using its Standing Operating Procedure and Rules of Engagement as guide.
“You are please enjoined to cooperate with the troops to rid criminals from the islands for the benefit of inhabitants of the place and for a safer environment,” Daji pleaded.
According to a statistics presented by the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria lost a staggering N163.17billion of oil revenue to the activities of pipeline vandals in both Lagos and Niger Delta area between 2012 and 2017.
The Navy said that its operatives destroyed 637 illegal refineries in 2018 in the region to curtail the oil revenue loss as part of efforts under ‘Operation River Sweep.’
It said it also destroyed 274,661 barrels of crude oil; 23,560,255 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) in 2017 and 277,040 barrels of crude oil and 212,610 litres of PMS in 2018.
The Navy Chief of Policy and Plans, Rear Admiral Bee Ibe-Enwo, gave the statistics at the Navy headquarters in Abuja, on the occasion of the Navy’s 63rd anniversary, noting that the military was working on acquiring more platforms for sea surveillance.
Ibe-Enwo gave the breakdown of the N163.17 billion oil revenue loss as follows: 2012, N21.48bn; 2013, N38.88bn; 2014, N44.75bn; 2015, N51.28bn; 2016, N2.67bn and 2017, N4.11bn.
He said: “The Navy carries out surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime space using the Regional and Maritime Awareness Capability and Falcon Eye facilities in addition to the use of vessels and helicopters. The Navy has 24 Maritime Domain Awareness sites located across the coastline in Badagry, Lagos, Igbokoda, Abuja, Formoso, Forcados, Escravos, Brass, Yenagoa, Bonny, Iko, Ibaka, and Calabar.