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Oil theft: Military to establish FOB at Tarkwa Bay

Plans are underway for a Forward Operating Base (FOB) to be established at Tarkwa Bay Island for credible presence to sustain gains recorded by military clearance operation, KUROMBE, an exercise carried out by joint taskforce, Operation AWATSE.

The FOB would also ensure constant monitoring of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) storage facility at Atlas Cove and pipelines in vast Islands in the area.

Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin disclosed this on Thursday while receiving four patrol vehicles and four quad bikes donated to joint taskforce, Operation AWATSE by the NNPC.

Olonisakin who was represented by the Director of Operations, Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Jack Yusuf, noted that an FOB in the island would ensure that vandals and other criminal elements cleared during KUROMBE do not crawl back into the place to continue their acts of economic sabotage.

Already, Olonisakin said he has approved the deployment of additional 110 troops to the area to hold the ground and prevent the cleared hoodlums, criminals from returning.

He thanked NNPC for the donation of the mobility assets, adding that they will enhance the Taskforce’s capacity to rapidly deploy enforcement resources for the country’s energy security.

Olonisakin said: “The dwindling oil prices internationally saw the downward trend in government revenue generation for some time now. This among others has necessitated the need for judicious use of resources to minimize waste. Therefore, all efforts including the terrain advantages that these assets offer, must be emplaced to ensure the security of pipelines and the smooth distribution of petroleum products across the country.

“Let me assure you that the Defence Headquarters will continue to provide the necessary support to ensure the successful take off of the FOB and other initiative that will ensure adequate security of the Atlas Cove and other critical national infrastructures.

“As expected, the magnitude of discoveries and subsequent destruction of illegal structures and equipment used by these unscrupulous elements and saboteurs, we know that the criminals will not back off easily. “Their inability to return after several attempts, under various guise including several petitions and litigations will not deter our efforts. “Consequently, I have directed the legal department to examine all the petition received and take the necessary legal steps to address them.”

In his welcome remarks, the Commander, Operation AWATSE and Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) WNC, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji said between December 21, 2019 to August 3, a total of 2,862 illegal structures/shanties that encroached on the NNPC Pipeline Right of Way or were used to perpetrate pipeline vandalism were removed.

He said the operation saw the recovery and destruction of 553,879 empty 25-litre jerry cans worth about N553,879,000.

“If the vandals had succeeded, the empty jerry cans would have been used to steal about N1.6 billion worth of petrol.

Additionally, 3,708 x 25 litres jerry cans filled with PMS worth N13,997,700 were recovered and handed over to the depot manager. “Furthermore, a total of 310 hand-dug pits filled with PMS used by pipeline vandals for siphoning PMS were discovered during the clearance operation, KUROMBE.

“It is gratifying to note that NNPC maintenance team has permanently sealed the pits. During the clearance operations, 31 persons, including some foreigners, were arrested for involvement in petroleum products theft and pipeline vandalism and were handed over to relevant prosecuting agencies.