‘Operation Delta Safe’, a military operation launched in 2016 by the Chief of Defence Staff, Brig-Gen Gabriel Olonishakin, to protect oil facilities and installations in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, has accused major oil-producing companies in the country of sabotaging their efforts to checkmate oil theft.
Theatre commander of the operation, Air Vice Marshal A. Akirinade, who made the allegations at an investigative hearing organised by the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Oil Theft Tuesday in Abuja, said the oil producing companies are the major reason why oil theft is still subsisting in the country.
He said it would have been able to reduce oil theft to the barest minimum but for the sabotage of the oil producing companies that had vowed not to cooperate with the operation.
While commenting the efforts of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) on tackling oil theft, he accused the other major oil-producing companies notably NAOC, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil and Total of sabotaging their operation in oil theft.
He called on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to compel these oil producing companies to improve their governance structure of their pipelines.
The commander also harped on the need for a speedy approval of the National Economic Council (NEC) recommendations on strategies for curtailment of oil theft in Nigeria.
While declaring open the investigation, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila lamented that crude oil theft and the attendant damage to oil and gas assets across the country destroy the environment.
He said the crime: “Puts the lives of our citizens at risk and undercuts government revenue and compromises government’s ability to meet our nation’s developmental challenges,” adding that: “It is the worst kind of economic sabotage for which there is no viable defence or excuse.”
The Speaker observed that: “Those who engage in these acts of sabotage do so with the full awareness that their actions are inimical to the continued viability of the Nigerian state, yet they persist.” (New Telegraph)