April 16, 2024

NNPC foils crude oil theft attempt, as Tantita security outfit intercepts 800,000-litre vessel en route to Cameroon

 

Oredola Adeola

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, has announced the arrest of an 800,000-litre capacity vessel with stolen crude oil which was impounded on Friday, July 7, 2023, en route to Cameroon by Tantita Security Services, a Nigerian security firm hired by NNPC to prevent crude oil theft in the country.

 

This was confirmed in a statement released by Garba Deen Muhammad, Chief Corporate Communications Officer, NNPC Ltd., and obtained by EnergyDay on Monday.

According to Garba Deen, Tantita intercepted the Vessel with a Cargo of Crude oil on board on July 7, 2023, after receiving credible intelligence, about a suspicious vessel with a cargo of crude oil on board on the Ondo coastline.

EnergyDay’s check showed that the Tantita linked to Government Ekpemupolo also known as Tompolo, a former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta. has been recognized for its efforts in fighting oil theft. In May 2023, the agency arrested six oil vandals and seized a barge laden with 700 barrels of illegal crude oil in Opete, Udu Local Govt, Delta State.

 

The NNPC claimed that preliminary investigation showed that the Vessel, MT TURA II (IMO number: 6620462), was owned by a Nigerian Registered Company, HOLAB MARITIME SERVICES LIMITED with Registration Number RC813311.

 

The national oil company stated that the vessel 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.

 

Garba Deen said that the NNPC and its private security firm in a preliminary investigation gathered that the crude oil cargo onboard was illegally sourced from a well jacket offshore Ondo State, Nigeria.

 

He also claimed that there was no valid documentation for the Vessel or the Crude Oil Cargo onboard at the time of the arrest.

 

The NNPCL spokesperson said, “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 Governmental 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.

 

Explaining the rationale behind the planned destruction of the illegal vessel, the NNPC’s spokesperson said that destroying the vessel involved in transporting stolen crude oil is of paramount importance as a strong deterrent.

 

He said, “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.”

 

The NNPC Ltd. therefore assured Nigerians that it will continue to sustain the momentum in the war against crude oil theft until it is brought to a halt.

 

EnergyDay further gathered that the surveillance contractor was awarded a pipeline surveillance contract in 2022 by the NNPCL.  The contract was reportedly worth N48 billion annually (estimated at N4bn per month).

 

The private security outfit had in the past achieved some success  in its ninth month of operation in the Niger Delta, since it was hired by the NNPC, has made some significant successes in the intensive clampdown on illegal oil activities, including the discoveries of a key illegal underwater pipeline and platform connected to the 48–inch Trans-Forcados Export Trunk Line in Delta State.