Nigeria's military said on Monday they had detained a small oil tanker and arrested 46 people trying to ship illegally refined oil products, pursuing a fight against an underground industry worth hundred of millions of dollars a year.
Nigeria is Africa's largest crude oil exporter but its production capacity is reduced significantly by oil bunkering, where thieves tap often unguarded pipelines which pass through the thousands of kilometres of winding creeks and waterways in the vast Niger Delta region.
The military said 13 large wooden Cotonou boats and a speed boat were ferrying barrels of oil product to a ship with the capacity to hold around 1,000 barrels, valued at around $100,000. The oil had been processed in one of the hundreds of makeshift illegal refineries hidden in the creeks.
These suspects, who were nabbed by our patrol teams at River Akassa, were in the process of loading this vessel with illegally refined petroleum products. Presently, the oil vessel is detained at the Government Jetty in Yenagoa, said a spokesman for the Niger Delta joint task force.
These suspects have contributed in no small measure to the destruction of the nation's economy and the environment.