Military discovers over 50 illegal refineries in Bayelsa forest

The military Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta, known as “Operation Delta Safe (OPDS),” has made a significant breakthrough by uncovering over 50 illegal refining sites in the Biseni forest of Yenagoa Local Government Area in Bayelsa State.

Under the command of Rear Admiral John Okeke, the operation revealed the extent of illicit activities involving the illegal refining of stolen crude oil in the region.

Commander Okeke explained to reporters that the illegal refining operations were conducted on a daily basis before being intercepted by the military.

He disclosed that during the operation, a large dugout open pit was discovered at one of the sites, capable of accommodating more than 10 trucks of Alternative Gas Oil (AGO), which is used for cooking purposes.

In a stern warning issued after the operation, Commander Okeke emphasized that he had previously cautioned oil thieves in the area to cease their unlawful activities or face consequences. Despite these warnings, the illegal activities persisted, prompting the military intervention to dismantle the illicit operations.

He said: “On May 9, 2024, we were at Ukwa West LGA, in Abua State bordering Rivers State, a contiguous forest bear a shared along Imo River.

“Today like I said we are not going to relent and is work in progress. We will not get tired, we will continue, we are in Biseni in Yenagoa LGA of Bayelsa. We transverse from Ahoada West LGA, of Rivers to reach this point, the most surprising thing is that this place we are now is housing over 50 cooking sites with unique arrangements.

“Why are the thieves operating in this area decided to be so smart by connecting what is called theft line made of two inches pipe, a galvanized pipe connecting directly to supply oil line on the road, from a distance of one kilometer.

“Then they have a lot of funny connections where they have various arrangement of connection, multiple connection where each of the thief get their supply. From a large dugout open pit that can accommodate more than 10 trucks of AGO, holding crude oil from where they distribute to their cooking site.

“Look at the thick forest, we are now, you can never imagine that such serious crime is going on here, if not for the good spirited individual that volunteered information, we wouldn’t have known.”

The discovery of these illegal refineries underscores the ongoing challenge of oil theft and illegal refining activities in the Niger Delta region. It highlights the concerted efforts of Operation Delta Safe to combat criminal activities that pose environmental risks and economic sabotage to the nation.

As the military continues its crackdown on illegal refining sites, the hope is to curtail such illicit activities and safeguard the environment while ensuring the rule of law prevails in the region.

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