ASABA, Nigeria – The 6 Division of the Nigerian Army successfully “busted and destroyed an illegal oil refinery” in Delta State on Wednesday, August 23, 2023.
The operation targeted clandestine ovens and storage reservoirs involved in illegally refining stolen crude oil.
Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the Director of Army Public Relations, disclosed details of the operation in a statement issued on Thursday, August 24, 2023.
“The troops, while conducting anti-oil theft operations, responded to actionable intelligence and swooped on an illegal oil refinery site in the general area of Ogbokoko and Atu in Warri South Local Government Area,” said Nwachukwu.
According to the statement, eight active ovens utilized for the illicit activity were destroyed along with 14 storage reservoirs containing approximately 200,000 liters of stolen crude oil and an additional 90,000 liters of locally refined Automotive Gas Oil, AGO.
“Operation Delta Safe led the strike, and the site was destroyed in-situ following extant guidelines,” Nwachukwu added. He mentioned that the oil thieves scattered into the wilderness, abandoning their illegal setups as the troops advanced. “Investigations are ongoing to arrest the fleeing criminals.”
As the Nigerian government grapples with the long-standing issue of oil theft and illegal refineries, costing billions in lost revenue and causing severe environmental damage, operations like this are crucial.
Brigadier General Nwachukwu further called on citizens to cooperate with law enforcement agencies.
“Members of the public are implored to report any suspected act of sabotage or criminality to security agencies. This enhances ongoing efforts to curb economic sabotage in the country,” he emphasized.
The operation comes as a relief to a nation reeling from economic instability and rampant corruption in the oil sector, but it also raises questions about the efficacy of short-term military interventions in solving a problem deeply rooted in economic and social issues.
In the coming weeks, attention will be focused not only on the arrest of the criminals involved but also on larger policy measures that the Nigerian government may roll out to permanently curb the economic sabotage that is crippling one of Africa’s largest economies.