By Cletus Opukeme, Warri
*Expresses Commitment to Partner Delta State Advocacy Committee
By Cletus Opuke
A Niger Delta based environmentalist and National Coordinator of Center for Peace and Environmental Justice (CEPEJ) an NGO, Comrade Sheriff Mulade has called on the federal Government to create facilities to store illegally acquired crude oil and other petroleum products that are often seized and destroyed by security operatives in the Niger Delta Region.
He noted that security operatives helped in polluting the Niger Delta environment with the setting of fire on stolen petroleum products.
Comrade Mulade made the call recently at Kokodiagbene Community, Gbaramatu Kingdom in Warri South-West Local Government Area of the State during an environment monitoring exercise by CEPEJ.
The environmentist noted that the quantity of crude oil emptied into the Delta State ecosystem through the destruction of illegally acquired petroleum products and crude, portends grave environmental and health hazards.
He lamented that the environment was being further destroyed by security operatives who burn boats loaded with illegally refined stolen crude oil and other petroleum products, describing crude oil destruction as a huge economic waste, as well as environmentally destructive with diverse consequences.
Comrade Mulade also claimed that statistics contained in Navy’s comprehensive analysis of its performance in the first half of 2019, showed that about 131,085.06 barrels of crude oil and 29,612,202 litres of illegally refined products valued at about N8.4 billion have been destroyed by the Nigerian Navy (NN) between January 2018 and June 2019.
He added that 227 illegal refineries, 2,688 storage facilities and 364 wooden boats were also destroyed, while 11 barges and 32 vessels were impounded.
In his words; “With this level of destruction, it is obvious that the Delta State Advocacy Committee against Vandalism of Oil and Gas Facilities led by the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Deacon. Kingsley Otuaro needs a strong partnership with CEPEJ and many other relevant stakeholders towards achieving its vision and mission.
He ascerted that arrests made by security operatives was in line with the Nigeria Navy’s Anti-Crude Oil Theft (COT) and Joint Military Task Force, JTF efforts at curbing the activities of illegal refineries and other related activities. He stressed that security personnel do not have many options as what to do with the seized products as they act based on directives.
The CEPEJ CEO said the Delta State Government has a robust option to convert the destructive venture into meaningful and economic fortune of generating sustainable employment.
He said “The Delta State Government should expand its advocacy committee on vandalism of oil and gas facilities by collaborating with environmental right NGO, International oil companies and the Federal Government to urgently consider building a facility to store crude oil and illicitly acquired seized petroleum products for properly channeling them to a refinery and save our environment.
He said it was important to tap the economic benefits of the oil being wasted and the resources being destroyed, if a modular refinery is in place to accommodate these products and refine them, the proceeds will mean a huge financial output for Delta’s
He disclosed that CEPEJ has a programme that was developed by experts to drastically halt illegal crude oil theft, Illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism, saying that the programme is aimed at engaging the people.
He noted that when people in such oil rich region are economically helpless, their impulse to resort to illegal oil bunkering becomes the expressions of their collective unconsciousness.