JTF uncovers 50 illegal refineries in Bayelsa 

The Joint Task Force (JTF) codenamed Operation Delta Safe has uncovered over 50 illegal crude oil refining sites in the Biseni area of Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa state.

JTF commander, John Okeke, who led the operation on Sunday, said illegal refining of stolen crude oil was taking place in each of the sites.

Okeke said he had earlier warned oil thieves in the area to desist from illegal refining of crude oil or relocate to other areas.

No arrests were made but he urged public-spirited persons in the area to volunteer useful information that would help in stemming the tide of the illegal business as the JTF cannot do it alone.

He assured that the JTF would not relent but would continue to chase after the oil thieves to do what he described as clearance action warning the JTF may come up with more drastic measures.

Also uncovered in the area was a large open pit the oil thieves dug that could accommodate over 10 trucks of Alternative Gas Oil.

It is believed that the open pit is used to store stolen crude oil from where it is distributed to their refining sites.

Okeke recalled that on May 9, 2024, the JTF team was at Ukwa West local government area of Abia state bordering Rivers state at a contiguous forest shared by both states along the Imo River.

According to him, the thieves operating in the area connected what is called a theft line made of a two-inch pipe, a galvanized pipe, directly to the supply oil line on the road, from a distance of about a kilometre.

Continuing, he said, “Then they have a lot of funny connections where they have various arrangements of D connection, multiple connections, where each of the thieves gets his supply from a large dug-out open pit that can accommodate more than 10 trucks of AGO, holding crude oil, from where they distribute to their cooking sites”.

On the site of the illegal refineries, Okeke stated, “Look at the thick forest we are in now. You can never imagine that such a serious crime is going on here. If not for the good-spirited individual who volunteered information, we wouldn’t have known.”

Okeke further added, “It appears that they felt that we are playing romance with kid gloves, but I can assure you that it is getting out of hand if we continue to curb this illicit activity.”