The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta said on Sunday in Yenagoa it had shut down 134 illegal crude refineries and seized two barges used by oil thieves.
In a statement to newsmen by JTF’s Media Co-ordinator, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, the task force said the operation was carried out between Nov. 22 and Nov. 30 in Rivers, Bayelsa and Delta.
The operation tagged “Operation Pulo Shield’’ uncovered and cracked down on 134 illegal crude oil distillation camps, 34 Cotonou boats and 36 pumping machines.
The JTF said it uncovered 12 illegal oil dumps used by oil thieves in Igbematoru, Oyeregbene, Lasukugbere, Mbikiba and Ewesusho communities in Southern Ijaw, Brass and Nembe local government areas (LGAs) of Bayelsa.
“Some of the camps were being regenerated by the oil thieves before the crackdown.
“A locally-fabricated steel barge containing products suspected to be illegally-distilled Automated Gas Oil (AGO) was also intercepted by the patrol team around Nembe 2 flow station,’’ Nwachukwu said.
He said the barge had been towed to Nembe 1 flow station for safe custody.
The statement also said a wooden barge and two wooden boats conveying unascertained quantity of adulterated AGO were seized during patrols in Alakri-Okirika waterways in the Okirika LGA of Rivers.
It added that the wooden barge had been recovered and secured at Peterside House Boat, a detachment of the JTF.
The statement said further that JTF operatives shut down an illegal crude oil distillation camp at Orhobo village in Jesse, Ethiope East
Local Government Area of Delta.