The Nigerian Navy has excavated and dismantled oil equipment of a suspected oil syndicate on Oil Mining Lease-18 in Elem Krakama Creek in the Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Navy said it dismantled the equipment used in syphoning crude precisely on Oil Well 17 operated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL.
The Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, Commodore Suleman Ibrahim, said the Navy spotted the illicit activities by its patrol helicopter on July 11, 2023.
Ibrahim, who led newsmen to the site on Saturday, said the discovery led to the dismantling of the multiple pipelines buried in the ground.
He also said four suspects, engaging in the illegal oil bunkering, were arrested in a separate incident.
He said excavation was done in collaboration with the NNPCL, and expressed shock at the level of expertise deployed by the suspects.
Ibrahim stated that such massive oil theft could not be done by amateurs, saying the syndicate were sophisticated people with expertise.
Addressing newsmen, Ibrahim said, “We came here with members of the NNPC OML 18 Resources, they are the owners of the well.
“We came with our heavy equipment to make sure we dismantle the illegal structures that are being used to syphon crude illegally.
“A lot of pipes have been recovered from the wellhead and we have disconnected where they are being connected to.
“As an individual, what I have seen here is way beyond what I have seen elsewhere. The level of sophistication is beyond our imagination.
“The individuals involved had taken their time and done a lot of measurements and did welding on-site.”
He said the cartel involved in the act were being tracked, vowing that they would be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
The NHS Pathfinder Commander said the NNPC OML18 technical staff had been to the second location (Kala Ekweama) and they had seen and done their assessment.
To this effect, Ibrahim said work would soon begin at both locations to ensure that the areas that had been compromised were fixed.
Meanwhile, the Navy have apprehended four suspects in connection with oil bunkering.
The Navy commander said though the four suspects reside in Borokiri in Port Harcourt, they hail from Southern Ijaw axis of Bayelsa State.
When interrogated, the suspects confessed that they were paid N20,000 to transport diesel from the creek to Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.
He stated that the four suspects would be handed over to the appropriate agency for prosecution.