Tompolo’s Tantita Security Services Alleges 90% of Diesel Sold In Nigeria Illegally Refined

Tompolo’s Tantita Security Services Alleges 90% of Diesel Sold In Nigeria Illegally Refined

A company owned by former Niger Delta warlord, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, Tantita Security Services (TSS) Ltd., has alleged that up to 90 per cent of refined diesel sold in Nigeria’s filling stations is ‘brewed’ by local communities in the Niger Delta.

The firm, which was contracted by the federal government in 2022 to embark upon oil surveillance activities in the region, following the massive fall in crude oil production, stated that almost all the oil companies patronise those who illegally refine the country’s crude.

The Executive Director, Operations & Technical, Tantita, Capt. Warredi Enisuo, who spoke during a panel session at the just concluded Nigeria Oil and Gas (NOG) summit in Abuja, therefore argued that the communities must focus consistently when the progress of the oil industry is discussed.

The panel was themed: “ Exploring Nigeria’s Content Solutions to Meet Energy Demand.”

Enisuo argued that the reason that cheap, illegal diesel was no longer available, more or less, was because of the work that Tantita was doing to stop oil theft in the Niger Delta, insisting that oil communities must no longer be ignored.

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

“ 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, they patronise the local diesel refineries. Don’t let anybody deceive you.

“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,” Enisuo emphasised.

According to him, until host oil communities are educated, given affordable and adequate health care and are seen as key stakeholders in the oil industry, the issues currently besetting the oil sector may be prolonged.

“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, 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,” he argued.

On how to start tackling the challenge, the top Tantita executive argued that building standard educational institutions and health institutions in the creeks is one way, while there should be massive reorientation of host oil communities.

To drive the conversation, he noted that government at all levels must take the lead, while the local content board as the regulator, and the oil companies must follow.

He explained that the government must do everything to stop the temptation to sell crude illegally to foreign refineries, pointing out that the company receives calls on a weekly basis from foreign refiners complaining that they no longer get feedstock because of the surveillance activities by Tantita.

“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.

He explained that the practice of dealing with a chief or one traditional ruler in a host community should be done away with, since there are complaints that the perks never get to the expected quarters.

“There’s a very big difference in calling the chief and making him a representative of everybody. Then you go back and twist it. And you get things that the whole community participated in.

“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 that 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,” he said.

To some extent, he argued that even that is not a long-term solution, noting that the stakeholders will have to consider establishing industries, beyond the extractive market. “Don’t build the skyscrapers in Lagos and leave the others in squalor,” he advised.

Emmanuel Addeh

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