Members of the NNS Pathfinder of the Nigerian Navy patrol to look for illegal oil refineries on April 19, 2017 in the Niger Delta region near the city of Port Harcourt, Nigeria. NNS Pathfinder of the Nigerian Navy forces crack down on illegal oil refineries in the Niger Delta, the countrys oil heartland. The illicit refineries are just one component of oil theft in Nigeria, a mammoth industry estimated to be worth as much as $8 billion a year, according to a 2013 report by Chatham House, a London think-tank. / AFP PHOTO / STEFAN HEUNIS (Photo credit should read STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

War Against Soot: Navy Swings Into Action

 

The Nigerian Navy has arrested 13 persons suspected to be illegal oil refiners and seized 14 large wooden boats that are used for smuggling petroleum products that are stolen in the Niger Delta region.

This is part of an ongoing operation by the navy codenamed, “Operation River Dominance”.

Under the plan, the Navy is expected to effectively dominate Rivers waters by blockading the waterways and making it impossible for oil thieves to cart away stolen oil.

So far, three million litres of diesel and crude oil has been intercepted by the Nigerian Navy on Rivers waters.

A naval vessel, NNS Pathfinder, which is in action in the Niger Delta, impounded three barges that were conveying three million litres of petroleum products.

Pathfinder, a fast naval craft, swooped on three barges loaded with millions of litres of crude oil and diesel while on regular patrol of the waterways.

It is not yet known if the Navy encountered any resistance from those who have been taken into custody.

The seizure of the said products is coming against the backdrop of an all out war by the Rivers State Government designed to end the spread of airborne pollutants known as the “black soot.”

Commander NNS Pathfinder, Rear Admiral Abdullahi Ahmed, revealed through the Base Operation Officer, Commander Umar Sidi, that the special operation has been initiated to support Governor Nyesom Wike’s decision to end bunkering and illegal refining of crude oil.

Sidi stated, “We have arrested 14 wooden boats that are used in transporting illegally-refined crude. We have also arrested three barges since the campaign began.

“The Rivers State government made a declaration to local government councils to ensure all illegal refining sites in the state are destroyed.

“To support that declaration, Commander NNS Pathfinder activated Operation River Dominance to support the State Government declaration,” Sidi said.

Relatively, the Niger Delta has become increasingly peaceful.

Some say that illegal refining operations has taken most of the militants and kidnappers who roam about in the Niger Delta away from the streets.

But the consequences to the Rivers environment which is being degraded by the day has resulted in the ongoing campaign to save the people from impending doom.

Medical doctors warn that unless the soot regime is stamped out, Rivers people would be exposed to increasing health hazards.

The illicit refineries are just one component of oil theft in Nigeria, a mammoth industry estimated to be worth as much as $8 billion a year, according to a 2013 report by Chatham House, a London think-tank.

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