Nigeria mulls best response to oil thieves

Aug. 26, 2013 at 8:10 AM

ABUJA, Nigeria, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Nigerian authorities said they were concerned about a military decision to destroy illegal oil operations in the Niger Delta region.

A July report from the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative estimated the country lost $10.9 billion in oil revenue to theft and sabotage from 2009-11.

Maj. Gen. Bata Dabiro, commander of a Nigerian task force patrolling the region, said the military takes action when they come across illegal operations in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

"Illegal refineries are not far away from the communities. We will not allow them to continue to operate," he was quoted Monday as saying by Nigerian newspaper The Punch. "When we locate them, we destroy them."

Government officials said they're concerned about the military approach. They said it's adding to environmental problems in the region. Oil companies operating there said sabotage is responsible for widespread pollution.

"No one has calculated the cost of restoring the environment," Niger Delta envoy Kingsley Kuku said. "But extrapolating from the cost of restoring aquatic life in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP Gulf coast spill of 2010, the cost to the Niger Delta will amount to more than $1 trillion."

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