Stolen crude oil in a supertanker has been captured by Equatorial Guinean authorities over theft suspicions from Nigeria, according to the Nigerian Navy.
The ship was apprehended by the Central African nation, after it departed from Nigeria’s AKPO oilfield.
The achievement, according to Nigerian Navy spokesperson Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, was proof of improved cooperation among Gulf of Guinea nations.
The ship, with the International Maritime Organization number (IMO) 9858058, made a false signal that it was under pirates’ attack. That was when “NNS GONGOLA” ordered the supertanker to go to Bonny Fairway Buoy for interrogation.
He said the Regional Centre for Maritime Security for West Africa also confirmed that the vessel raised a false alarm.
“On Sunday 7 August 2022, personnel of the Nigerian Navy on routine patrol had observed and reported the suspicious presence of Motor Tanker (MT) HEROIC IDUN in Akpo Oil Field, Deep Offshore Bonny. The Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) with IMO No. 9858058 is a 336-metre long tanker with a carrying capacity of 299,995 MT. It is reportedly owned by Hunter Tankers AS, domiciled in Scandinavia, Norway, but operated by Trafigura Maritime Logistics situated in the Netherlands,” the statement reads.
“The vessel had arrived at the Total Safe Anchorage (SA) operated by Akpo Oil Field for loading operations; but was interrogated by the Nigerian Navy and later observed to be without NNPC due clearance for the loading operations. Notwithstanding, MT HEROIC IDUN proceeded with the loading operation at the Akpo Single Buoy Mooring (SBM) on 8 August 2022.
The news of Equatorial Guinean Navy’s capture of MT HEROIC IDUN on Aug. 12, 2022 was received with great satisfaction by the navy.
“It is also a strong warning to criminals, their sponsors and connivers that the Nigerian Navy will leave no stone unturned in ensuring the safety and security of Nigeria’s Maritime Environment (NME); as well as the observance of due process and extant regulations by all maritime stakeholders within the NME,” the Nigerian Navy added.
The tanker’s capacity reveals the size and scope of the theft of the valuable resource; which deprives the nation of much-needed foreign currency.
The government of Nigeria’s inability to earn dollars from the export of crude oil; which is its primary source of income, has recently had a significant negative impact on the country’s economy.
The Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, hinted that while local oil theft had been somewhat contained, there were some international cartels involved in the theft of Nigeria’s oil. Kyari made this statement during the unveiling of new Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) with its partners last week.