An intercepted vessel carrying barrels of stolen crude oil has been set ablaze by security personnel of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe in the Escravos region of Delta State.
The captain and crew were held on board the ship, as it was sailing to Cameroon with the cargo.
Rear Admiral Olusegun Ferreira, the Commander of the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe, claimed that the oil cargo was illegally obtained from an offshore well-jacketed vessel in Ondo State at the time of the arrest and did not have any legal documentation.
The said vessel had operated in stealth mode for the last 12 years.
SaharaReporters had on Monday evening reported that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) said that it intercepted the vessel with 800,000 litres of stolen crude oil.
The vessel – MT TURA II (IMO number: 6620462) – belonging to Holab Maritime Services Limited, was apprehended offshore with the Captain and Crew members on board.
The Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPC Limited, Garba Deen Muhammad, in a statement had said, “Following the receipt of credible intelligence, a Private Security Contractor engaged by NNPC Ltd., Messrs. Tantita Security Services, intercepted a suspicious Vessel with 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. 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.”
He added: “NNPC Limited assures Nigerians that we will sustain the momentum in the war against crude oil theft until it is brought to a halt.”