Pipeline Infrastructure Nigeria Ltd, PINL on Friday announced that it has discovered and destroyed about 35 clusters illegal oil bunkering and refining points in parts of the Niger Delta areas covering zone 3, comprising Owaza, Odogwa, Ishimiri and Kom Kom.
The company made the announcement Friday deep in the creeks off the Imo River on the OML 11 (eleven) acreage operated by NEPL (NNPC, Exploration & Production Limited, the exploration and production arm of the NNPC), categorised as zone 3 of the Eastern corridor where the security and technical team from the company came to destroy some illegal oil refinery camps and tools, especially storage facilities which are popularly called ‘pots’ among them.
Friday’s activity saw the destruction of the facilities along the axis of Nkali flowstation of the illegal connections on the twin 12-inch delivery lines spanning 27km from Imo II manifold in Imo state through parts of Owaza in Abia state to Ogale manifold in Rivers State.
At one of the site visited, journalists met members of the technical team of Pipeline Infrastructure, pipeline surveillance guards and government security agents destroying a metal storage tank of 85,000 liters deep into the raffia palm forest off the Imo River.
Both sides of the river bank and even the river itself were littered with hundreds of such illegal refining ‘depots’ with clear tell tale signs of the devastation they have done to the forest and the river for the more than 2 km we traveled by boat to the site of the day’s destruction exercise.
“We are here to continue with the “Zero IR” (Zero Illegal Refineries) campaign, complete destruction and eradication of all identified IRs and to also ensure that this illegal activities of crude oil theft is discouraged by all means necessary via community engagement, daily patrolling and deployment of security and personnel coupled with the unflinching support of the Government Security Agencies” (GSAs), said a source in the company.
Speaking to journalists at one of the sites, Engr. Joshua Ogundele, Operations Manager, Pipeline Infrastructure said; “We are here to ensure the total removal of all tap points including OML 17 which spans 5km from Nkali flow station to Imo 2 manifold.
“As you can see, this is a big drum, which is approximately 85,000 liters capacity and we are here to ensure total destruction of this illegal refineries which we have spotted in this area”.
He explained that the exercise was an ongoing one saying “this tank was discovered yesterday (Thursday) and we commenced destruction that yesterday. You also saw some on our way here.
“One thing I need to let you know is that this entire zone 3 axis actually covers Odogwa, Ishimiri, Komkom and Owaza. This Owaza actually has 3 islands which makes it one of the most difficult terrain in this our activities because we have to go through the water ways on accessing them and one of the challenges in this is that due to time constraints, when we demobilise for the day, before we return the following day they would have come back and push some of these ‘pots’ (illegal refining containers) into the water like you have seen while we were coming.
“So there are so many illegal refineries around the area which we have destroyed and are still destroying”.
He highlighted the number and extent of the destruction exercise Engr. Ogundele stated; “Currently what I can tell you, most of these illegal refineries are in clusters. It’s not something like you find just one, you have them in clusters and in a particular cluster you can have more than 15 illegal refineries in one particular location and currently, I can tell you confidently, we have destroyed over 35 clusters of illegal refineries so far”.
“Since we took over the contract, the aim of PINL is to ensure that all illegal refineries are discovered and destroyed”, he stressed.
He commended the host communities for their enormous support attributing their success to their cooperation.
He said; “Part of our daily activities in discovering these illegal refineries is engagement of community surveillance. So this is one of the avenues where the host communities assist in ensuring the success of discovering these illegal refineries.
“Like I said that PINL has successfully destroyed illegal refineries blocking the delivery line of over 35 clusters we however discovered that these vandals are migrating to the well heads areas and we have in like manner ensured that the well head areas and flow lines are being monitored 24/7 and that is why we have this synergy with government security forces, the host communities and even our own technical team to ensure that wherever they are migrating to we ensure we put an end to all their illegal activities”.