Nigerian military blows up ship caught carrying 800k litres of stolen crude oil to Cameroon says vessel operated in stealth mode since 2011
A Nigerian Air Force Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunship has blown up the intercepted vessel carrying barrels of stolen crude oil in the Escravos area of Delta State on Tuesday.
According to the Executive Director of Operations and Technical at Tantita Security, Captain Warred Enisuoh and the Commander of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Olusegun Ferreira, the oil cargo was illegally sourced from a well-jacketed offshore in Ondo State with no valid documentation at the time of the arrest.
Rear Admiral Olusegun Ferreira left taking over command from Rear Admiral Aminu Hassan May 5 2023
He said the vessel had operated in stealth mode for the last 12 years. The discovery was the latest in the series of alarming discoveries by the Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, a security outfit owned by former militant leader Government Ekpemepulo aka Tompolo and contracted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.
The NNPC on Monday in a tweet said “Following the receipt of credible intelligence, a Private Security Contractor engaged by NNPC Ltd., Messrs. Tantita Security Services, intercepted a suspicious Vessel with a Cargo of Crude oil on board on July 7, 2023.
The Vessel, MT TURA II (IMO number: 6620462), owned by a Nigerian Registered Company, HOLAB MARITIME SERVICES LIMITED with Registration Number RC813311, was heading to Cameroun with the Cargo on board when it was apprehended at an offshore location (Latitude: 5.8197194477543235°, Longitude: 4.789002723991871°), with the Captain and Crew members on board.”
“Preliminary investigations revealed that the crude oil cargo onboard was illegally sourced from a well jacket offshore Ondo State, Nigeria. There was no valid documentation for the Vessel or the Crude Oil Cargo onboard at the time of the arrest. Further investigation into the activities of the vessel at the NNPC Ltd. Command and Control Centre also revealed that the Vessel has been operating in stealth mode for the last twelve (12) years.” It stated.
“The last reported location of the Vessel was Tin Can Port in July 2011. Details of this arrest and the outcomes of the investigations were escalated to the appropriate Government authorities, upon which it was concluded to destroy the Vessel to serve as a strong warning and deterrent to all those participating in such illegal activities to cease and desist.”
Destroying vessels involved in transporting stolen crude oil is of paramount importance as a strong deterrent. The illegal trade of stolen crude oil not only inflicts significant economic losses on Nigeria and legitimate stakeholders in the oil industry, but also perpetuates a cycle of corruption, environmental devastation, and social instability. NNPC Ltd. assures Nigerians that we will sustain the momentum in the war against crude oil theft until it is brought to a halt.” The statement signed by Garba Deen Muhammad Chief Corporate Communications Officer read.
The wanton destruction of the vessel and waste of air to ground rockets has generated controversy.
In October 2022, security agents also destroyed a vessel used for crude oil theft off the Niger Delta creeks after the vessel was reportedly arrested by Tompolo’s company.
Nigerians condemned it as a waste and asked why wasn’t it given to the Navy as a floating base cum gun platform and used as evidence in prosecuting the owners.
The House of Representatives vowed to look into the matter but were rebuffed by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ). The Chief of Defence Staff at the time Lucky Irabor said there was no need for investigation hence the destruction of the ship.
Stealing of crude oil has become a profitable enterprise. Last year, the NNPC said it uncovered an illegal oil connection from Forcados Terminal that operated for nine years with about 600,000 barrels per day of oil lost in the same period.
As at press time the owners of the bombed vessel are yet to be identified and charged.
Akowe with reports from Abuja