The business of oil theft and illegal oil refining in the Niger Delta region has become so brazen.
The thievery is a network, involving communities, government officials, oil workers, and security agencies.
The oil is being stolen at an industrial scale.
Moderate estimates suggest 150,000 barrels of crude oil are stolen every day in Nigeria.
The vast majority of this is sold internationally.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Nigerian Navy had seized a sea vessel ferrying over 600,000 liters of diesel.
This was contained in a statement made available to members of the press by Lt. Cdr Edward Yeibo.
Yeibo said, four suspected oil thieves were intercepted loading the oil vessel when the Navy swooped on them.
Two suspects escaped while two were apprehended.
According to Yeibo, “As of the time of the arrest one of the boats had finished trans-loading its product into the barge.
“Consequently, the personnel of Forward Operating Base FORMOSO with gunboats and tug boat towed the barge to its jetty for further investigation.
“However, the wooden boats were destroyed, the two suspects are in custody for preliminary investigation and prosecution,” Yeibo said.
Explaining how the arrests were made, Yeibo quoted the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship SOROH Commodore Habib Usman.
Usman had reported that a barge and five wooden boats laden with about 600,000 metric tons of diesel were intercepted.
Usman said the arrests were made around Beama community in Nembe Local Government Area in the waterways within Bayelsa.
Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba had assured that the Navy will make the sea lane of communication accessible for all legitimate users.
The Nigerian Navy also vowed to frustrate maritime criminalities in its Area of Responsibility.
He further reiterated the Navy’s Zero Tolerance to crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism, illegal oil bunkering and other sundry crimes in the Niger Delta Region.
According to him, there is no hiding place for crude oil thieves as the Navy will continue to sustain patrols in the maritime environment.