London, Monday, 17 October 2022
The Nigerian Navy destroyed a small vessel that was reportedly used for oil theft in the Niger Delta days after the Nigerian National Oil Company (NNPC) published information of a vast seaward pipeline used for oil theft from private oil companies.
The 87-meter-long ship MT Deino (IMO 7210526) was purportedly seized on October 6 by Tantita Security Services Limited, a private security company (TSSL). The business just received a contract to provide personal surveillance for pipeline infrastructure in the Niger Delta.
While crude oil was being loaded, TSSL and a Nigerian Navy unit stationed in Delta State apprehended the ship on the Escravos River's creeks. The ambush resulted in the capture of eight crew members, including the captain, Captain Temple Manasseh.
A pipeline owned by Chevron Nigeria Limited had an unlawful connection that allowed about 650 cubic metres of crude oil to be injected into the vessel (CNL).
Following Captain Manasseh's admission that the ship was in fact carrying stolen oil, the Nigerian Navy set the vessel afire. The captain, however, asserted that armed men had taken control of his ship, driven it to Escravos Creeks, and forcibly loaded the crude oil.
"TSSL agents detained me in Escravos, although I did not load the purportedly stolen crude oil. Some men took control of my ship and rammed it with the laden crude. I have no acquaintance with the hijackers. They all fled the scene and stopped their loading operation, which had taken about two and a half hours, when TSSL agents raided the area, according to Captain Manasseh.
Captain Warren Enisuoh, TSSL Marine Intelligence Consultant, who briefed reporters on the operation, claimed that MT Deino lacked the qualifications to operate as an oceangoing vessel and should instead be used as a river vessel.
Captain Enisuoh said that intelligence collection and the utilisation of remote sensing tools led to MT Deino's arrest.
"It is on the list of ships that are always being watched, and it has been eluding the law for a while. It was transporting crude illegally to Ghana, namely the Port of Tema, while frequenting the Niger Delta. Four further vessels are known to us, and we advise them not to approach Nigerian seas, continued Enisuoh.
After the Nigerian government declared a crackdown, the arrest of MT Deino demonstrates progress in the fight against crude oil theft. In order to stop rampant oil theft in the Niger Delta, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari instructed security personnel to step up operations in August. The injunction was issued a week after a VLCC carrying crude oil stolen from Nigeria was apprehended in Equatorial Guinea.
(Report by: The Decision Maker – Maritime editors)