As a major crackdown on illegal oil activities unfolds in Nigeria, security forces have launched airstrikes at vessels carrying stolen crude in the Niger Delta, destroying the vessels and their cargo.
A security operation in Nigeria’s Rivers State caught three vessels stealing crude from a pipeline and launched air strikes designed to completely destroy the vessels and serve as a potential deterrent for others involved in illicit oil activities.
Nigerian security forces also said it has spotted another illegal refining site “with tanks and reservoirs loaded with suspected illegal refined products”. That site was also destroyed in an airstrike over the weekend.
“The days of treating criminal elements in our country with kids’ gloves is over. We must continue on this trajectory until we bring all of them to their knees,” The Guardian of Nigeria quoted Air Marshal Hasam Abubakar as saying.
The airstrikes come after the Nigerian military last week destroyed 36 illegal refining sites and arrested 22 suspected oil thieves in the Niger Delta. The operation reportedly recovered 310,700 liters of crude oil; 14,675 liters of Automotive Gas Oil, 49,000 liters of Dual Purpose kerosene and assorted weapons.
Nigeria’s premium oil grade is Bonny Light, named after its Bonny oil hub, which last year was said to be losing nearly all of its oil output to theft.
Nigeria’s petroleum officials have varyingly estimated that the country is losing between 200,000 and 400,000 barrels of oil per day to illicit activities.
Nigeria is hoping to increase its oil output to up to 1.7 million bpd by November, hoping to win a higher quota in the OPEC+ agreement, though the country has consistently failed to produce to its quota, due to pipeline vandalism, oil theft and lack of investment capacity.
Nigeria’s quota was 1.742 million bpd earlier this year, but due to its underproduction of more than 400,000 bpd, the output cap for Nigeria was lowered to 1.38 million bpd at the OPEC+ meeting in early June.