800,000ltrs vessel with stolen crude intercepted, destroyed

The battle against oil theft has recorded a big gain with the interception and destruction of an 800,000 litres vessel laden with stolen crude.

Sixty-four illegal crude oil connections have also been discovered while 77 illegal refineries were destroyed in the Niger Delta last week.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) yesterday said its private security contractor, Tantita Security Services, intercepted the vessel. It said the vessel was destroyed.

Chief Communications Officer of the oil giant, Garba Deen Muhammad, said in a statement that the vessel, which was on its way to Cameroon, was apprehended with its captain and crew members on board.

The statement reads: “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 Cameroon 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. 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 company also said it discovered 64 illegal crude oil connections and destroyed 77 illegal refineries in the Niger Delta in the past week.

According to the NNPCL, Nigeria lost about $41.9 billion to oil theft between 2009 and 2018.

Transparency Initiative (NEITI) said the country lost 619.7 million barrels of oil valued at N16.25 trillion ($46.16 billion) to crude stealing between 2009 and 2020.

Oil theft has resulted in significant revenue losses for the Federal Government.

Leader of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), Alhaji Mujahid Dokubu-Asari, alleged that over 99 per cent of oil theft in the country was carried out by top military personnel, a claim that was denied by the hierarchy.