Nigeria, one of the biggest oil producers in Africa says that its military has destroyed 13 illegal refineries on Wednesday, reports Reuters.
At least two soldiers died while battling the ‘sea robbers’ to destroy the facilities. According to the army there are hundreds of the illegal refineries siphoning crude oil from oil company pipelines in the Niger Delta oil hub.
The federal government of Nigeria said that it plans to legalize illicit refineries in part of its efforts to bring peace to the crude oil production region.
The illegal refineries are makeshift structures in oil soaked clearings and the illegal business supports tens of thousands of local people.
According to Nigeria’s navy chief, 50 bush refineries were shut down in early 2017, 181 illegal refineries were destroyed last year, 748 suspects were arrested, and crude oil and diesel worth 420 billion naira ($1.3 billion) was confiscated.
The Nigerian government is holding talks with the local communities in the region as tension remain in the region due to militant attacks on Nigeria oil production. The attacks are putting the country at a loss with the oil revenues providing two-thirds of government revenue.
The militant attacks led to oil losses and due to global low oil prices, Africa’s largest economy fell into recession in 2016 for the first time in 25 years.