National News

Battle of Surveillance: How oil thieves installed CCTV cameras on trees to outsmart security operatives in N-Delta

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has disclosed that crude oil thieves have resorted to a new tactic of installing Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras on trees to evade security operatives.

According to a statement from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) in Abuja on Tuesday, there were 149 recorded incidents of crude theft across the Niger Delta in the past week.

The company noted that the battle against crude oil theft is ongoing throughout the Niger Delta, and industry-wide security collaboration has achieved notable progress.

“In the past week, 149 incidents were recorded across the Niger Delta. In some areas of the Niger Delta, it’s become a warfare of sorts,” the NNPCL said.

It said in Osuobodo between two ANTAN flow stations south of Oguta naval base in Imo state, an oil bunkering site was uncovered.

Far from the regular, the NNPCL said these criminals have taken their activities a notch higher.

“In this camp, CCTV cameras have been installed on trees by the thieves to look out for security operatives. Mortar launchers and defence systems were also mounted by the oil thieves in various locations to eliminate any perceived enemy.

“This discovery was made possible after an invasion by the military following information gathered by air surveillance carried out by Target Energy, Tantita security services, Operation Delta Safe and the Military in August.

“It’s a well-orchestrated mission. The thieves are determined to live here and trade their stolen crude. A lack of electricity is no excuse. Generators are on standby to keep the camp’s operations afloat,” the statement said.

It said drums of crude oil feeding from an illegal connection, bags used for storing crude and more were discovered on the camp.

The oil company said between the 14 and 20 of October, 2023, 49 illegal connections were uncovered in Udu & Ogharefe in Delta State, Ohaji Egbema in Imo, Brass in Bayelsa and Rivers State.

“At this spot in Rivers State, oil thieves drilled a tunnel underneath the tarred road to insert their illegal connection. The aim is to operate undetected. This was planned and carried out by an expert, using a horizontal directional drilling machine.

“16 cases of pipeline vandalism were recorded this week in Azuzu in Bayelsa state and Obodo Omadina and Ogidigbein in Delta state where a wellhead was vandalised. In Ozuaku in Abia state, a vandalised pipeline is being repaired.”

It added that 10 facilities used for storing stolen crude were uncovered in various locations in the Niger Delta in the past week. In Ekpemu in Delta state, an interesting discovery was made.

It explained that more storage facilities were discovered in Ogborode, Ugborodo and Kwale in Delta State, Tomble and Emuoha in Rivers State and Yenagoa in Bayelsa State.

In Ozoro, Umuosonwu and Patani in Delta state, the NNPCL said vehicles conveying sacks of crude oil were arrested and their content confiscated.

“Five (5) vehicle arrests were made between the 14th and 20th of October, 2023.

“18 wooden boats conveying stolen crude were also apprehended this week in Rivers, Delta and Imo states.

“Nine (9) of these incidents took place in the deep blue water, 23 in the western region, 67 in the central region and 50 in Nigeria’s Eastern region.

“For NNPC Limited, there is no backing down on the war on crude oil theft, until the menace is eradicated for good,” it said.

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