A coastal community in Bayelsa State yesterday applauded the Joint Task Force (JTF) deployed to the Niger Delta to tackle crude oil theft, saying their efforts have reduced the activities of sea-pirates, crude-oil-thieves and pipeline-vandals.
Chief Dona Biena, a Community leader in Akassa community of Brass Local Government Area of the State said that the renewed effort has put the menace of crude oil theft and environmental degradation in check.
Biena who commended the JTF for their improved patrols of the waterways said their collaboration with local surveillance groups has led to the seizure of a barge carrying stolen crude oil on 17th March 2019.
The community leader noted that one of the local surveillance group, Labrador Security, leveraged on its knowledge of the terrain in the creeks and provided intelligence and logistics to the troops of the JTF that led to the arrest of some oil thieves in the act.
According to the Community leader, the seized barge named ‘Rampage 13’ was was said to have been ladened with over 200,000 litres of crude oil suspected to have been stolen from a location in Bayelsa State.
A member of the surveillance group who participated in the operation told Tribune Online that the vessel was being pushed by a tugboat named ‘Aya Oba Olori II’ when it was apprehended.
It was gathered that the barge and tugboat were initially anchored at Labrador Security base in a coastal town at Bille and handed over to Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps on March 25.
Reacting to the commendation, Commander of the JTF, Rear Admiral Suleiman Apochi said that that oil production figures from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation had indicated an upward swing in production in the past three years.
Sulaiman said that the country’s oil production had increased to 2.2 million barrels per day from 900, 000 barrels per day because of the significant progress recorded in the fight against pipeline vandalism, militancy, and kidnapping, among others.
The force commander said that oil production rate had fallen to about 900,000 barrels per day three years ago just before the JTF was reorganised and repositioned for improved performance.
“As at the time we took over the leadership of this operation, the oil production of the country was at 900, 000 barrels per day.
“Today, due to our operational activities and commitment to providing an enabling environment for business to thrive, oil production has increased to 2.2 million barrels per day.
“Many oil firms have come here to commend us for providing them with the enabling environment for the oil business to thrive.
“We have received such feedback from Agip, which at a time, had shut down due to unsustainable levels of oil theft.
“We shall continue to do the best we can in line with our mandate of ‘Operation Delta Safe’, which is essential to protect oil and gas infrastructure.
“We shall also deter and prevent militancy, sea robbery, and any other forms of criminality within the joint operation area, which will impact positively on the economy of this country.
“We shall always remain committed to this mandate; that is why we are encouraged to do more in providing security in the region,” he said.