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FG probes theft in $1.1bn oil well

The PUNCH has learned that an illegal oil bunkering facility connected to the largest financing transaction for an oil and gas field—Oil Mining License 17, owned by billionaire businessman Tony Elumelu—is currently the subject of an investigation.

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps discovered an illegal local refinery in Otamiri-Etche, Etche Local Government Area of Rivers State, on Thursday, prompting the investigation, according to The PUNCH.

The PUNCH discovered that the illegal refinery steals crude from Heirs Holding Oil and Gas Limited’s OML17 fields.

Heirs Holdings bought 45% of OML 17 from Shell Total and Eni in 2021. At the mark of securing, the field situated at the north Port Harcourt, delivered only 27, 000 barrels each day, in any case, creation rose to 40, 000 barrels each day seven months after obtaining.

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The PUNCH learned from local informants’ intelligence reports that the NSCDC was successful in breaking up the oil bunkering gang.

According to reports, the perpetrators accessed the Heir Holding Oil and Gas facility via pipeline bulk delivery and stole crude oil from their illegal local refinery through carefully constructed pipes.

Further discoveries uncovered that some insider inclusion associated with the bunkering had been uncovered, and the NSCDC is at present questioning laborers both inside and outside the office fully backed by Elumelu himself.

According to people with knowledge of the situation, Elumelu was alarmed by the report because the threat had been present for years before Heirs Holdings acquired the field.

“Thought people functions in the office, local people, including the proprietor of the land being utilized for the criminal operations have been gotten for addressing”, sources who guaranteed namelessness because of the awareness of the matter told The PUNCH.

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The development was confirmed by Michael Besong Ogar, the Rivers State NSCDC Commandant.

He claimed that it was the first time the country had witnessed a novel mode of operation by illegal oil thieves.

The PUNCH also learned that the illegal refinery’s sponsors are the subject of an investigation and will be brought to court.

“I have to admit that this is the first time I have seen a well-constructed illegal refinery with such a large number of pipes laid across the area. Given the size of the land, you can also imagine how dishonest people can be despite the ongoing fight against dealing in petroleum products illegally.

“We have started a thorough investigation into the matter, and we will figure out what’s up with this economic sabotage.

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“We will not be discouraged or distracted by the activities of oil thieves in the State. The NSCDC has a clear statutory mandate to safeguard critical national assets and infrastructures across the federation. He stated, “We will go after them without compromising and ensure that the illegal dealings in petroleum products are drastically reduced in order to boost the nation’s economy again.”

Fields like Agbada, Obigbo, Obigbo North, and Otamini and Umuchem are included in OML 17. Additionally, it houses facilities capable of producing 150,000 barrels per day. The field produces less than 50 million standard cubic feet of gas per day, and 2P reserves of 1.2 billion barrels of oil are estimated.

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