Nigerian security impounds 5 vessels for alleged oil theft

2013-04-17 10:38:11 GMT2013-04-17 18:38:11(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

YENAGOA, Nigeria, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria's Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) on Wednesday said it had impounded five illegal vessels in a move to combat oil theft and safeguard oil installations in the southern state of Bayelsa.

State commandant of the corps Desmon Agu told a news conference in Yenagoa, the state capital, that the outfit had recorded appreciable successes in the fight against crude oil theft.

"We have arrested five illegal vessels, 11 suspects, 11 tankers and prosecuted 11 persons," the NSCDC chief said.

He expressed regret at the recent upsurge in oil theft and illegal bunkering which compelled Agip to suspend operations in Bayelsa and assured that the security agencies had taken steps to address the lapses. The commandant said the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta had been repositioned for greater effectiveness as all relevant agencies of government were represented.

Agu appealed to residents in the oil bearing communities to collaborate with security agencies by volunteering information to assist in the fight against oil theft which he said had adverse economic and environmental consequences.

The Shell Petroleum Development Company had threatened to shut its Nembe Trunk line because of rising incidents of oil theft through its pipeline network in Bayelsa.

Mutiu Sumonu, the Managing Director of SPDC, on March 4, urged the JTF to step up its activities to reduce oil theft, currently standing at about 60,000 barrels daily.

Also, the Nigerian Senate said it would not hesitate to endorse death penalty for illegal bunkering and oil theft in the West African country. The Senate decried the increasing level of theft of Nigeria's oil resources, adding that the law should provide for severe sanctions to serve as deterrent.

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