In a range of three month the Nigerian government ravaged more than 400 modular refineries despite the country’s non-capacity to refine enough crude oil for local utilization of by-products.
The Commandant of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, in Bayelsa, Desmond Agu, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Yenagoa that the so called modular refineries were destroyed between January and March. He further said the illicit business were operated by oil thieves in the state.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians, including the Ijaw Youths Council, have asked the federal government to legalise and regulate the modular refineries to ensure production of petrol and other by-products and as a means of job creation.
According to the Ijaw Council Chairman, Udengs Eradiri, licensing modular refineries will reduce the pressure on the naira as the foreign exchange spent on importing the products will be conserved. Even though the petrol scarcity has escalating in the past months, the federal government has not shown any interest or willingness to legalise or regulate the illegal refineries. The scarcity has forced many Nigerians, who need petrol for their cars and to power their electric generators, to buy the product at the black market sometimes at 500 per cent increase in price.
On Sunday, Mr. Agu said that the command now had a gunboat to fortify its operational capacity and had intensified patrols in the coastal settlements and waterways in the state. He said the intensified patrols by the command had led to the arrest of an ex-militant leader and his gang, whom he said, were being prosecuted.
Mr. Agu said that the corps had deployed its personnel to provide security to critical national assets and oil facilities across the state.
“The command is determined to deal with the oil thieves and end their illegal businesses.
“We have made some arrests concerning the recent cases of vandalism at Agip’s oil fields in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.
Mr Agu said.
“The corps recovered the bodies of the three oil workers that died in the explosion in one of the fields on March 26. We have handed over the bodies to Agip.
“The case has also been handed over to the Bayelsa State Police Command because it involves death and falls outside our mandate,”
The death of the oil workers were earlier attributed to poor safety measures at the Agip oil field, according to Peter Idabor, the Director-General, National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA. Meanwhile, officials of Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC) in Bayelsa and its parent company, Eni, have not made any comment on the Easter Sunday’s explosion.
Fillippo Cotalini, Media Relations Manager, Eni, is yet to respond to the request sent to him through e-mail for a reaction on the explosion.
Recall that a similar explosion on July 9, 2015 claimed the lives of 14 people in the firm’s oil field in Azuzuama, in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area.