The Nigerian Navy has announced the discovery of a depot in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, where illegally refined Petroleum products are warehoused for onward transportation to destinations across the country.
Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Pathfinder, William Kayoda, made this known on Friday while parading the 32 suspects arrested during a raid on the facility.
The Navy commander said that the depot is located in the Rumuolumeni area of Port-Harcourt, few kilometres away from a naval base and two major oil companies.
He explained that operators of the depot used the two oil companies close to it to deceive security agencies and members of the public.
“During the raid, troops found over 150 Geepee tanks of 20,000 litres capacity each and over 300 rubber tanks all fully loaded with illegally refined diesel,” Kayoda said.
“Also three 33,000-litre tanker trailers fully loaded with petroleum products believed to be stolen were also impounded on the scene during the raid.
“Similarly, about 10 large wooden boats, popularly known as Cotonou Boats, laden with products suspected to be illegally refined diesel, were impounded.”
The total quantity of diesel that was impounded by the Navy in the operation is put at 5.3 million litres.
Speaking further, Kayoda said that the discovery was part of an operation launched by the Nigerian Navy codenamed: “Operation White Valentine”, which is aimed at exposing operators and financiers of illegal crude refining in the Niger Delta.
The Commander revealed that the one-month operation kicked off on February 14 and will end on March 14, adding that it would go a long way to reducing oil bunkering and vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure in the region.
He said: “For a week now, we have been tracking local depots where petroleum products sourced from illegal refineries are kept for onward sale to the public.
“The operation is based on 3 cardinal pillars: firstly, to arrest the big wigs behind illegal refineries and bunker sites because the sites are not run by foot soldiers.
“The second pillar is to arrest manufacturers of the wooden boats which are used to move the illegally refined products from illegal refineries to local bunkering depots and vessels.
“As we speak, there are both covert and overt operations currently ongoing to arrest the big wigs of illegal refineries and manufacturers of Cotonou boats.
Kayoda said that the confiscated products as well as the arrested suspects would be handed over to the Department of Petroleum Resources and relevant security agencies respectively for further actions.