The Nigerian Navy operating under NNS Gongola has confirmed the arrest of MV HEROIC IDUN, a supertanker, that loaded stolen crude oil from Nigeria, by the Equatorial Guinea Navy earlier in the week over alleged crude oil theft in Nigeria.
Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Navy, confirmed in a statement that the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) with IMO Number: 9858058 is a 336-meter long tanker with the capacity to load 3 million barrels of oil.
EnergyDay gathered that the Marshal Island flagged vessel, built in 2020 (2 years old), was arrested with 26 crew comprising 16 Indians, eight Srilankans, a Polish, and one Filipino.
It was also gathered that the vessel as at the period of an arrest does not possess the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited’s (NNPC) loading permit and other valid documents.
Ayo-Vaughan confirmed that the supertanker with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 9858058 raised a false alarm that it was under pirates’ attack when ‘NNS GONGOLA’ ordered the vessel to sail to Bonny Fairway Buoy for interrogation.
EnergyDay had earlier reported a statement from the Equatorial Guinea Navy confirming the arrest of the vessel after receiving an intelligence report from the Nigerian Navy.
The Navy spokesperson revealed that the West Africa Regional Maritime Security Centre (CRESMAO) headquarters in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), also confirmed that the vessel raised a false alarm about an attempted boarding between 10 to 15 nautical miles (NM) of Akpo oil field in Nigeria to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) Zone E and other international platforms.
Ayo-Vaughan said, “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 Number: 9858058 is a 336-meter 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.
“Having not produced her NNPC clearance papers for the loading operation, MT HEROIC IDUN was stopped from proceeding further by Nigerian Navy Ship GONDOLA.
“The Captain of MT HEROIC IDUN then revealed that he was instructed by his ship’s agent, Messrs Inchcape Shipping (owners of IDUN Maritime Limited) not to obey any directive from the Nigerian Navy. The VLCC subsequently resisted arrest when ordered to stop by NNS GONDOLA and the supertanker escaped towards the Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Zone Area.
“The Head of CRESMAO, Rear Admiral Istifanus Albarra confirmed that the captain of the Tanker refused to cooperate and rather altered course towards Sao-Tome and Principe and later deliberately raised the false alarm to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) that she was under pirate attack. This information was subsequently broadcast by IMB to the relevant international authorities and stakeholders.”
According to Ayo-Vaughan, the admiral noted that “arising from the foregoing, it is very important that incidences, especially of piracy reported by vessels, need to be cross-checked with the relevant authorities (particularly the Yaounde Architecture) to authenticate the veracity or otherwise before broadcast”.
“This is in order not to raise false alarms, especially at this time when the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain has recorded a drastic reduction in maritime incidences as compared to two years ago. IMB, therefore, is entreated to cancel this alert broadcast, coordinate with the appropriate authorities, and put out the right information,” the Nigerian Navy spokesperson said.
Ayo-Vaughan however revealed that the feat was an indication of renewed collaboration among Gulf of Guinea countries. He added that He stated that the collaboration has strengthened increased security efforts, privacy, and armed robbery at sea, to attain the economic development of the region.