The Nigerian Navy yesterday exonerated itself from the loss of 200,000 barrels of crude oil to pipeline vandalisation and illegal refineries, even as it blamed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the loss.
It said 577 illegal refineries were deactivated since 2020 across the Niger Delta region by it.
At a briefing to commence the 64th anniversary celebrations of the Nigerian Navy in Abuja, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, placed the situation on the doorstep of the NNPC, which he said bordered on procedural gaps within the national oil company.
Gambo, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans of the navy, Rear Admiral Christian Ezekobe, blamed the loss of such quantity of crude to the inactions of the NNPC.
Ezekobe, who was responding to a question on why Nigeria was still registering such loses, which was revealed at an earlier meeting with NNPC in spite of the navy’s campaign against crude oil theft, said when illegal refineries were dismantled by the navy, NNPC failed to respond to calls to evacuate the products.
“The question (at an earlier meeting with NNPC) was posed by us, and we said 200,000 barrels per day is like 27,000 metric tons. Now, if you can imagine a vessel of 27 000 metric tons, the size and quantum of such vessel, it becomes evident to you that these loses are not only occurring through pipeline vandalisation and illegal refineries.
“It means that in the process and procedures within the system, there are things that are not being done that must be done, and I think the Chief of Naval Staff impressed that on the organisation,” he said.
He said: “there is so much the Nigerian Navy can do and there’s so much it cannot do. We have put it before the NNPC that even when we dismantle illegal refineries, we invite them to evacuate the products; this is not a blame game, but they fail to do it.
“But they have assured us that moving forward, this won’t be done in the future. For the 200, 000 barrels, the navy will want to look at the economics of the maritime security, what is the cost of the loss? What is the cost of equipping the navy adequately?.”
Reviewing the achievements of the navy in stemming the tide of crude oil theft, Ezekobe said the service had performed well in the fight against crude oil theft (COT) and illegal oil bunkering considering the short period that this administration had been in the office.
“The Nigerian Navy has through operations conducted by operations bases and Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) cumulatively deactivated a total of 95 illegal refineries between January and May 2021. These activities were complemented with series of swamp buggy operations in the areas where illegal refineries were discovered.
“To appreciate this effort, may I state that from records, 477 illegal refining sites were deactivated between July and December 2020. This figure drastically decreased in the last four months (January to May) to 95,” Ezekobe said.
The naval boss said the “success of denying Nigeria’s economic saboteurs thousands of barrels and litres of crude oil and diesel and saving the country billions of naira could be attributed to the increased effort of the navy’s Ops bases especially through Op River Sweep.
“Another key contributing factor to the success is the navy headquarters’ sensitisation and directives to all bases on zero tolerance to crude oil theft and illegal bunkering activities,” he added.