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Why Oil Companies Buy Diesel From Illegal Nigerian Refineries – Expert

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Tantita Security Services (TSS) Ltd., a surveillance firm owned by former Niger Delta militant leader Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, has made startling allegations regarding the source of diesel sold in Nigeria.

Speaking at the Nigeria Oil and Gas (NOG) summit in Abuja, Capt. Warredi Enisuo, Executive Director of Operations & Technical at Tantita, revealed that up to 90% of diesel available in the country’s filling stations is illegally refined by local communities in the Niger Delta.

Enisuo emphasised the complicity of oil companies in patronizing these illegal operations, which he claims are conducted covertly.

He said, “Don’t let any fuel station deceive you, 90 per cent of the diesel in fuel stations are produced by the communities.

“It will also interest you to know that even the oil companies patronise the local diesel refineries. Don’t let anybody deceive you.

“Why is there no scarcity of diesel (right now)? There is a scarcity of PMS (petrol). The story is simple. Most of the diesel you buy is brewed (refined) by the communities.

“But they do it illegally and behind the doors. So, as we go with the local content, the board has a lot to do with people with this skill and character.

“I’m not too sure how much your act has done to establish infrastructure but to be honest with you, we might need to focus more on the communities.”

Highlighting the impact of Tantita’s surveillance efforts, Enisuo suggested that the reduced availability of cheap, illegal diesel is a direct consequence of their operations to curb oil theft in the region.

He said, “The reason why the price of diesel is high today is because of the work of the private security companies like my company because we have been able to somehow cut down on a lot of the business, a lot of the illegal refining going on. That is why you see the cost of diesel going up.

“Let the communities take on the responsibility of ownership and a sense of belonging. This is why we are making progress.

“If you give them that sense of responsibility, you should not forget what happened in Niger Delta. But if you put them somewhere where you feel you can outsmart them…these guys will out-greed you.”

Moreover, Enisuo pointed out international ramifications, noting that foreign refineries have been adversely affected by decreased access to stolen Nigerian crude.

Proposing solutions, Enisuo advocated for comprehensive educational and healthcare initiatives in oil-producing communities, urging a shift away from dealing exclusively with traditional leaders.

He said, “In fact, I get, on the average, three calls in a week, of people calling me from overseas that their refineries are about to shut down because they can’t steal crude again the way they used to do. And a lot of Nigerians don’t know this. This is happening.

“So, there’s always going to be that temptation. So, you have to take care of those who are being tempted,” he posited.

“There’s some equity participation. You can’t deal with just one person. I’ll tell you a classic example. We have about 45,000 staff.

“Initially, when we started, we called on the community leaders to come and present the names of community persons who are going to participate in the pipeline security business.

“But we discovered that if we pay them, they’re not going to pay those people. So, we changed the whole thing around and said…we’re going to pay directly to them while they work.”

The director urges a holistic approach involving government leadership, regulatory bodies, and oil companies to address the root causes of illegal refining and foster sustainable development in Nigeria’s oil-rich regions.

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