An illegal tapping point on the Trans-Niger Pipeline (TNP) has been uncovered in the Nonwa Uedume community, of Tai local government area, Rivers State.
The Executive Chairman of Tai LGA, Rivers, Mbakpone Okpe, led the discovery team to the site on Monday. Others present at the site include security operatives of the Nigerian Army, officers of the Department of State Services (DSS), Tai local security task force and pipeline surveillance contractors.
Speaking on the incident, the Executive Director, Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEAC-Nigeria), Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, in an issued statement, condemned the act by the illegal oil refiners.
The executive called on the federal government to provide alternative livelihood opportunities for artisanal crude oil refiners in the Niger-Delta, through modular refineries and establishment of the presidential artisanal crude oil refining development initiative.
Fyneface said employees of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), operator of TNP, were performing routine maintenance work on the pipeline at the time of the discovery, as the tapping point was near their site. According to him, the workers “were surprised that a tapping point on their pipeline was close to where they were but they did not know”.
On his part, Okpe, speaking to newsmen at the site, said the discovery of the illegal connection on the facility, cost a lot of resources. He said the illegal connection was discovered following a tip-off, calling for collaboration between his team and the government.
Okpe also said some illegal oil bunkering activities are still ongoing as preliminary findings indicated that there may be more of such illegal camps in the area. He also accused Shell of not taking responsibility despite discovering the illegal pipeline.