Troops uncover illegal refinery occupying over 40 plots of land in Rivers (Photos)


By Desmond Ejibas

Troops of the Nigerian Army have uncovered an illegal refinery occupying about 40 plots of land, strategically concealed beneath dense forest cover to evade aerial surveillance at Odagwa community in Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State.

Six labourers working at the expansive illegal oil refinery capable of producing about three million litres of adulterated petroleum products within weeks were also arrested by the troops.

“The illegal refinery is forested that even a helicopter or drone cannot be able to see what we have seen on the ground,” Maj.-Gen. Jamaal Abdussalam, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 6 Division, Nigeria Army, Port Harcourt, told journalists.

Troops of Nigerian Army uncovers illegal refinery occupying 40 plots of land, concealed beneath dense forest at Odagwa, Etche LG of Rivers

Abdulssalam who lead journalists on inspection of the expansive artisanal refining site said investigations revealed that operators were stealing crude oil from a wellhead located at Imo River 2 Oil and Gas Oil field in the community.

“The discovery is part of 6 Division efforts to ensure that the Federal Government receives what is rightfully due.

“This operation was carried out based on credible intelligence that led us to this location, where we uncovered numerous illegal activities,” he said.

Abdussalam stated that during the raid, troops found over 14 reservoirs, each with the capacity to store over 200,000 litres of crude oil.

“We also discovered about 49 boilers capable of processing crude oil, as well as cables, tools, and a network of pipes connected throughout the area.

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“The crude oil we discovered in this site is in excess of daily crude export of Nigeria – which is quite pathetic and very sad.

“On the other side of the bridge (near the refining site), we also found numerous wellheads, which most of them are not in use.

“It is from these (functioning) wellheads that these individuals (oil thieves) install pipes to siphon crude oil from,” he added.

Troops of Nigerian Army uncovers illegal refinery occupying 40 plots of land, concealed beneath dense forest at Odagwa, Etche LG of Rivers
The GOC emphasised that the theft of crude oil in the country has had a detrimental impact on the nation’s economy and the living conditions of its people.

He said that the nation’s budget heavily relied on proceeds from crude oil production and expressed bewilderment at the continued sabotage of oil installations to the detriment of fellow citizens.

“Consequently, the illegal site will be dismantled as we remain steadfast in our commitment to curbing illegal bunkering activities in the Niger Delta.

“While a few arrests have been made, those apprehended are not the key players in this criminal enterprise. Those arrested are primarily labourers.

“The main players have not yet been caught, but now that we have uncovered this place, we will conduct proper intelligence and investigations to apprehend the operators,” Abdussalam assured.

The site of the illegal refinery

The army chief cautioned those involved in illegal bunkering of petroleum products to cease such criminal activities immediately and embrace legitimate means of earning a living. (NAN)

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