Operatives of the company owned by ex-Niger-Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo, better known as Tompolo, and security officials have uncovered a key illegal underwater pipeline attached to Trans-Forcados Export Trunkline, and a platform through which crude oil was being diverted to the high seas for export.
The discovery by the company, Tantita Security Services Nigeria Ltd (TSSNL), which is coming few days after an illegal 4-kilometre crude oil pipeline belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) was exposed, was made about a week ago by operatives of TSSNL through an exclusive intelligence report, according to the TSSNL Managing Director, Keston Pondi.
Shell Company operates the Forcados Terminal in Ogulagha, which has a capacity to export 400,000 barrels per day. It takes delivery of crude from the Forcados Oil Pipeline System and is the second largest pipeline network in the oil-producing region. The discovered illegal pipeline, on close observation, revealed that the illegal line was connected to the 48-inch Trans-Forcados Export Trunkline, in Burutu local government area.
Curiously, the illegally plugged point is directly located behind a military security post, and less than a kilometre to the Forcados Export Terminal in Ogulagha community. From the point of connection, the illegal pipeline was linked to another abandoned pipeline riser located within the vicinity and owned by AGIP Petroleum Company Ltd.
Through the abandoned AGIP facility, the oil thieves were said to be ferrying condensed crude oil to the sea for loading into thieving ships at midnight for onward movement abroad. It was gathered that some international oil companies (IOCs) and Nigerian independents operating in the Niger Delta also pump crude oil to the Forcados Oil Terminal for exports.
Speaking to newsmen on how the illegal connection was discovered, a marine intelligence consultant for TSSNL, Captain Waredi Enisuoh, said the crude oil stealing from the trunkline had been going on for quite a while by some very smart criminals. “They are smart but they are not smarter than the NNPCL, Nigerians and TSSNL operatives”, he stated.
The unearthing of the criminal pipeline and platform attached to the trunk line, operated by the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, is a major breakthrough in the renewed bid by the Federal Government, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, NNPCL, Ministry of Defense and other stakeholders to stop oil theft in the country.