…CRUDE EQUIVALENT NIGERIA’S DAILY PRODUCTION – FOC WEST
By Okosun Dennis
A motor tanker vessel identified as VINNALARIS 1 Lagos has been arrested by the Nigerian Navy for oil theft.
It was learnt that the Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base (FOB) IGBOKODA in Ondo on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, at about 10:00 pm detected through its sensor and arrested her in the early hours of Thursday, December 7, 2023, at about 3.00 am.
The vessel, a 77-meter-long Motor Tanker (MT) VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS, had 17 crew members onboard at the time of arrest as they were caught engaging in illegal siphoning of crude oil from one of the well heads at EBESAN oil field run by Con Oil.
At the time of arrest, she was about 7 nautical miles off the coast of Awoye riverine community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.
According to the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, Apapa, Rear Admiral Mustapha Bala Hassan while briefing the press revealed that the arrest of the vessel was based on credible intelligence received by the Base through its sensor that an illegal activities of crude oil theft at the location was ongoing.
When his men got there, they arrested the vessel siphoning crude oil from double channels into her tanks.
According to Rear Admiral Mustapha Bala Hassan, “The MT is almost as long as a football field and can carry 15,000,000 million Litres, which translates to about 95,000 barrels is equivalent to our daily production of about 1,350 metric tons per day. If it had loaded, it would have taken the equivalent of Nigeria’s production per day.
“The fight against oil theft is real and we need to make concerted efforts as directed towards reducing this crime.
“The Nigerian Navy has redoubled its efforts towards fighting criminalities in our waters, particularly crude oil theft.
“A lot of oil theft is from oil wells, particularly abandoned ones. So, there is a need for the oil companies to go back or be compelled to decommission the disused oil well.
“Strangely, today’s crime is from Ebeson which is run by Con Oil, active wellhead, and the Control centre or Control Room is about 1.5 km away from that place. It is suspicious and looks like an in-house job.
“This is a massive crime that requires thorough investigation because if it has succeeded, it would have impacted our economy massively hence we must see this to a logical conclusion.
“We would not relent in our efforts towards reducing crude oil theft in our waters. It is our mandate and we have highly reinvigorated that in that regard.
“I thank my team for their proactivity and give them big thumbs up. We have been given orders to ramp up our activities. We would make optimal use of our sensor, machine, and men and ensure we supervise them. Those that are not ready to work will be shipped out and those that are ready will be shipped in,” Admiral Hassan reiterated.
In a statement by the Director of Information (DINFO), Commodore Ayo-Vaughan added that the swift deployment of FOB IGBOKODA personnel to enforce the arrest of the vessel and her crew, the 2 x boats attached to the vessel fled on sighting the naval personnel which confirmed the engagement of the vessel in illegality.
Consequently, upon further search and interrogation, it was further discovered that the vessel had onboard 17 crew members of Nigerian nationality.
The arrest of MT VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS attests to the Nigerian Navy’s determination to curb crude oil theft and all manners of illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime domain.
As a result, the Nigerian Navy has warned all criminals and their cohorts that they will use all legitimate means at its disposal to track and arrest perpetrators of illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime environment.
While individuals carrying out legitimate business are advised to go about their legitimate activities, the Navy solicits the cooperation of patriotic and well-meaning members of the public to promptly report any form of criminalities, especially in the coastal communities to the Nigerian Navy for necessary action.
However, it was further disclosed that Tantita Security Service (TSS) might be involved in these illegalities because the Awoye riverine area which is close to the place of arrest is covered by TSS.
Again, “it was upon the arrest of the Vessel by the Nigerian Navy that TSS began to raise false alarm, totally unfounded and indeed mischievous.
“Despite that, the Nigerian Navy remains resolute in the pursuit of her constitutional mandate for the protection of Nigeria’s Maritime Environment for national economic development and prosperity,” Cdre Ayo-Vaughan emphasized.