By Lateef Adegbite
The engagement of Delta Security Services Limited, under the chairmanship of Government Ekpemudopulo, popular, Tompolo, a Gbaramatu , High Chief , in Delta state, for a year N48 billion oil Surveillance Contract in the eight Niger Delta states of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Ondo, Edo, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Cross rive state, appears to have forced the Nigerian Navy, NN, under the close watch of Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo and his officers to sit up.
Note that between August, 2022, and now, since Tompolo and his group moved into the Creeks in the Delta and Bayelsa, described as the home of bunkers and oil thieves, they were said to have discovered about 58 illegal oil point in the two states, particular, Delta, meaning that if the groups in Edo, Ondo, Rivers, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Cross river, will kick- start their own operations, the figure will go up.
The Group , was said to have also discovre a four Kilometer oil pipeline used by the oil thieves to lift Crude oil a the country’s oil terminals for exports, when the Naval personnel and the Marine police are everywhere in the region with nothing to show for it .Tempre Sylva, a former governor of Bayelsa state and minister of state, Petroleum Resources had said confirmed what Mele Kolo Kyari, Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, now baptized Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPCL, with the unbundling of NNPC, that the country loses about 700,0000b/d, to the oil catel.
Given the financial implications of thedaily loss of crude oil to the oil thieves operating in the Niger Delta, , Eng. Gbenga Komolafe, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, OF Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NUPRC, had put the loss at about $3 billion between August and September 2022, which had entered into the oil the oil cartel’s pocket.
This may have informed why the Navy had focused on the arrest of MT Heroic Idun, measuring 336 meter in length, which I almost the size of a three standard football field and 60 meter in width, believed to be capable of carrying two million barrels at a go used by the crude oil thieves The vessel, according to informed sources is currently sailing under the Flag of Marshal Islands and owned by Messrs Idun Mritime limited and with Messrs Inchcape Shipping as its Agent in Nigeria and OSM Ship Management as the vessel manager.
The Value News learnt that the Navy had made several attempts in the past to arrest the oil thieves vessel but failed to do so.
This this is because the Captain of the ship who will not want to lose the multi-million dollar vessel put in trust under his care will not want to lose the vessel to the Nigerian Navy as he was said to have regularly escaped to the open sea where he could easily maneuver his way out of any dangerous zone in the sea to a safer area where the Nigerian Navy may not have access to their ship, let alone make attempt to arrest her.
Although, the Captain of MT.Heroic, may have played smart to escape the eagle eyes of the Nigerian Naval personnel on patrol in Delta state, but could not escape the Equatorial Guinean Authorities. The oil thieves ship wa aid to have fallen into the waiting hands of the Equatorial Guinean Navy alongside a multinational crew of 26 sailors of the vessel, who were said to have been in the country’s Navy custody for three months running.
The arrest of the oil thieves’ ship by the Equatorial Guinea Authorities, may have given the Nigerian Navy hope that it will still recover it back. The security agency hope of recovering the vessel back may have been strengthened the Nigerian government was said to have opened a Bilateral talks with the West African country to facilitate the release of the vessel.
Indeed, after months of Bilateral and Diplomatic talks between the two West African countries, the vessel was said to have finally been released to the Nigerian government on November on November 6, 2022, after authorization by Theodore Nguema Obian, the country’s Vice President to the admiration of Vice Admiral Gambo, the Chief of Naval staff, CNS.
Two Nigerian Naval vessels were said to have escorted the oil cartel vessel, MT.Heroic back to Nigeria. Refitiv, the vessel tracking outfit, on Friday, November 11, 2022, had shown that the Ship’s destination was Bonny Island, Nigeria.
With the handover of the oil thieves’ vessel to the Nigerian government successfully completed, Obiang, the Equatorial Guinea, Vice President had said that there will be further Negotiations with the Nigerian government to wrap the matteVice Admiral Gambo’s men were said to have arrested two other oil thieves vessels, VIVIT Arabia and MT. Trinity Arrow, while attempting to lift Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG, at the Bonny Terminal, in Rivers state, recently, without authorization.
The ship owners and agents, who, insider said release their vessels for use by the oil cartel because of the pecuniary gains are no longer finding it funny as they are continusly losing such vessels to the Nigerian government and sometimes destroyed by the Navy on the High sea, who makes the seizure.
take for instance, the very Large Crude Carrier, VLCC, MT Heroic, that they were said to have planned, sponsored and executed an international Median Campaign in the recent time against the Nigerian government of harassing their vessels and their Human Rights Violations, ostensibly to win the heart of the international community, particular, member nations of the International Maritime Nations, IMO.
There is no gain saying the fact that while the ship owners and Agents, who release their vessels to the use of the oil thieves to lift crude oil for export in the Niger Delta region are currently losing their vessels to the Nigerian Navy, the security outfit was aid to have also seized a wooden Boat laden with 273 drums of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popular, petrol, along the Calabar , waterways , recently. That much was confirmed by Lt. Commander Isaac Ayogu, the south-south state, Base Operation Officer of NNS Victory.
He had said that the wooden Boat and the suspects were intercepted enroute to Agbani oil terminal. The wooden Boat and the items that it was carrying may have been destroyed by the NNS Victory Officers, in accordance with the standard procedure of the Navy as directed by Gen. Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defense Staff, CDS, that any item arrested associated Crude oil theft and illegal oil bunkering should be destroyed and suspects,, if any handed over to the appropriate prosecuting agency which happens to be the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC.
Given the success recorded by the Nigerian Navy in the recent time in checkmating bunkering and the activities of the oil thieves in the Niger Delta, may have given Lt. Commander Ayogu, the boldness to beat his chest that that ‘’the Navy is out to rid the country’s maritime domain of all illegalities o that legitimate maritime activities will thrive’’.