Nigeria: Oil Theft – Tompolo Uncovers Another Illegal Pipeline in Delta

The latest discovery comes less than one week after at least 58 illegal oil pipelines were discovered by Tompolo in Delta and Bayelsa States where crude oil was being stolen.

The Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, a surveillance company, has discovered another illegal pipeline attached to Trans Forcados Export Trunk line.

The security company is operated by a former militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo.

The illegal oil pipeline was reportedly discovered close to a military security post less than one kilometre from the Forcados Export terminal in Ogulagha, a community in Burutu Local Government Area, Delta State, South-south Nigeria.

The Federal Government in August awarded a pipeline surveillance contract reportedly worth N48 billion per year (N4 billion per month) to Mr Ekpemupolo’s company to check massive oil theft in the region.

Mele Kyari, the chief executive officer of Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, would later explain that the government was not dealing directly with Mr Ekpemupolo, but with the security company, in which the former militant leader has an interest.

The latest discovery comes less than one week after at least 58 illegal oil pipelines were discovered by Mr Ekpemupolo in Delta and Bayelsa States where crude oil was being stolen.

The Vanguard newspaper quoted unnamed sources as saying that oil companies, oil bunkers, NNPC, and security officials jointly steal crude oil.

The stealing is reportedly carried out through the illicit pipeline connected to the trunk line via a pipeline abandoned by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), and linked to a location in the high sea, where they load crude oil into vessels and sell overseas.

The Oil Spillage Victims Vanguard has threatened to sue NNPC and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) over the illegal pipeline connections used to steal Nigeria’s crude oil.

Oil Spillage Victims Vanguard is a group dedicated to the fight for compensation for victims of oil spills, health hazards of gas flaring and accountability in Nigeria’s extractive industry, among others.

The SPDC operates the Forcados Terminal in Ogulagha, which has a capacity to export 400,000 barrels per day.

“There are many reports of crude oil theft in the Niger Delta, but we are particularly interested in the theft of crude oil from the Forcados Terminal,” Harrison Jalla, the executive director of the victims Vanguard, told reporters in Warri.

“They have been stealing our national heritage for the past nine years and no one can say for sure where it began or where it ended. We want to start by holding the NNPC and SPDC accountable for the oil theft and the atrocities committed against the Niger Delta people,” he added.

The director said the planned lawsuit against NNPC and SPDC would serve as a deterrent to others involved in the illegal activity in the region.

“So many international oil companies have to account for this heist, but we want to start with the Shell Group because there is no way they could pipe crude oil from those terminals without the involvement of those running the terminal,” Mr Jalla said.

“We do not know if other areas where pipelines traverse the region are involved. We can now see there is a massive approach to stealing crude oil in the Niger Delta region.”

It was gathered that the oil bunkers usually ferry crude oil to the sea for loading and onward movement abroad through the abandoned NAOC pipeline.

“The two organisations should let the court know what they know about the massive oil heists since 2003,” Mr Jalla said of NNPC and SPDC.

“If we have a court where everyone will recount what they know, it is fair and good for us. We want to take them to a proper court of competent jurisdiction to unravel what is happening in the trunk lines.

“Our interest is to unravel what has been happening in the oil sector. So, whether they claim it is at Forcados Terminal is not our business. Our concern is that some people have perpetrated the crime of massive oil theft and the resources pocketed by those we do not know,” he stated.

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