The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited said it has discovered a total of 122 illegal oil refining sites across the Niger Delta region in the past week.

This was contained in its War on Crude Theft documentary released by the company on Tuesday, where it said 65 illegal pipeline connections were uncovered and removed within the past week in Rivers and other states in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

“About 310 incidents were recorded between May 18 and 24 across the Niger Delta region,” the NNPC Limited disclosed while reeling out its efforts in fighting oil theft and vandalism.

The 122 illegal refineries were spotted at Tomble II, III, IV, Umuajuloke, Rivers State as well as Oporomor III, Eduwini, and Ajatiton in Bayelsa State.

Vandalised well heads were reportedly discovered in Tomble IV, Rivers and Egbema in Imo State.

Also, a pit filled with crude oil from a vandalised wellhead was discovered.

Another five illegal storage sites were sighted with oil stored in sacks, pits, cans and a filling station, the energy company stated.

The state oil company added that 20 vehicles, including a tanker, were seized in Delta and Imo states, while 29 boats transporting crude oil or illegally refined products were confiscated across several creeks in Bayelsa and Delta states. It was said that 33 suspects have been arrested in connection with the incidents.

A filling station was also sealed for selling illegally refined fuel to motorists in Akwa Ibom State. The filling station selling illegally refined fuel was uncovered at Grey Creek in Akwa Ibom State.

Recall that the Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPC Limited, Mr Mele Kyari, emphasised the need to fight insecurity in the oil and gas sector to increase production.

According to Mr Kyari, the nation’s crude oil production keeps dropping due to oil theft and vandalism.

“How do you increase oil production? Remove the security challenge we have in our onshore assets. As we all know, the security challenge is real. It is not just about theft, it is about the availability of the infrastructure to deliver the volume to the market.

“No one is going to put money into oil production when he knows the production will not get to the market. Within the last two years, we removed over 5,800 illegal connections from our pipelines. We took down over 6,000 illegal refineries. You simply cannot get people to put money until you solve that problem,” he said.