Navy arrests 6 suspected oil thieves in Bayelsa
• Nigeria loses $1.2bn to oil thieves in a month
The suspects were arrested while using a tug boat to retrieve the distressed barge, Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sidi-Ali Usman, said in Yenogoa, the state capital, yesterday.
Sidi-Ali told journalists that the security agencies were making efforts to ensure the barge was salvaged from her present position.
He said that a Naval team on routine patrol spotted the barge, identified as the MV Lila.
The Navy, according to him, had taken measures to prevent the likelihood of oil spill and consequential damage to the environment.
He said that investigations into the incident had since commenced, warning that illegal oil vessels without valid documents plying the waterways in the area would be seized when sighted.
Meanwhile, Nigeria lost about 1.2 billion dollars to oil thieves in a single month of the first quarter of 2013.
“At average January-March prices of $121 per barrel, this theft resulted in a loss of $1.2bn to Nigeria in one month alone,” President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Adviser on oil-rich Niger Delta, Mr. Kingsley Kuku, said in the statement.
Official figures indicate that the trade in stolen oil led to a 17 per cent fall in official oil sales in the first quarter of 2013, estimated at 400,000 barrels per day, it said.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) said last month that the theft of oil from pipelines in Nigeria had damaged infrastructure, and was one factor in a fall of output by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) of which Nigeria is a member.
Such theft involves thieves tapping pipelines to siphon crude for sale on the lucrative black market. It often leads to explosions, fires and oil pollution.
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