June 22, 2024

Nigerian Court frees crew of VLCC, Heroic Idun arrested for suspected oil theft, after 8 months

Oredola Adeola


A court in Port Harcourt has ordered the release of the crew members of MV HEROIC IDUN, a supertanker, that was arrested eight months ago in a joint operation between the Equatorial Guinea Navy and Nigerian Navy operating under NNS Gongola for allegedly loading stolen crude oil from Akpo floating production storage and offloading vessel (FPSO), located in Akpo Oil Field, Deep Offshore Bonny, operated by TotalEnergies SE.


EnergyDay gathered that the Court gave the judgement on Friday, April 28, 2023, ordered the release of the tanker’s crew, consisting of 8 Sri Lankans, 16 Indians, a Filipino, and the chief engineer, who is a Polish national. The court also ordered that the vessel owner to pay a fine of $11,000.


As part of the deal, the ship accepted a maritime offense, and a further payment in the millions of dollars was also included in the deal.


TotalEnergies, Mercuria, and BP Plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, who were suspected to be major parties fingered in the deal, have altogether denied complicity in the allegations of involvement in stealing crude oil from Nigeria.


Further checks showed that apart from the crew of the VLCC charged and the fine paid by the vessel owner on the order of the court, other suspected parties that played prominent roles in the alleged crude oil thefts went scot-free and not charged.


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.


Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Navy had in a statement obtained by EnergyDay 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 spokesperson of the Nigerian Navy said.