Equatorial Guinea has arrested a supertanker with a capacity for three million barrels of oil, about three times the one million barrels per day (bpd) currently being produced by Nigeria.
GbaramatuVoice recalls that on Wednesday, the Nigerian Navy confirmed that the ship in question had been apprehended in Equatorial Guinea after the 300,000 metric tonnes facility escaped from naval security forces.
The Nigerian economy has recently been badly hit by the inability of the government to generate dollar revenue from its main source, which is the export of crude oil.
According to THISDAY, the supertanker, MT HEROIC IDUN, a Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), was observed by the Nigerian Navy’s Falcon Eye Maritime Domain Awareness system to have arrived at Akpo offshore oil field operated by Total SA at midnight on August 8 for loading operations without the necessary documents, especially the NNPCL clearance.
A naval source stated that the Martial Island flagged vessel with IMO No: 9858058 is a 336-meter supertanker capable of loading nearly three million barrels of Nigeria’s crude.
According to the source, the presence of the ship in Nigerian waters and proximity to Akpo Oil Field caused further inquiry from NNPCL, which confirmed the vessel’s presence and intended loading operation to be illegal because it lacked the necessary clearance by the agency.
To further confirm her intention, NNPC was said to have contacted Total SA demanding further information concerning the intended loading operation of the supertanker at the Akpo offshore oil field.
Based on the information received, the Nigerian Navy sent NNS GONGOLA to intercept and question MT HERIOC IDUN within the vicinity of Akpo oil field for her suspicious presence in Nigerian sea.
The source said: “On arrival of NNS GONGOLA at the location and communication with MT HEROIC IDUN, inquiry revealed that the vessel had 26 crew members on-board, comprising 16 Indians, eight Sri Lankans, one Philippine, and one Pole.
“The captain of MT HEROIC IDUN also revealed that the vessel arrived the oil field to load crude destined for Ziba in Equatorial Guinea. Further questioning revealed that MT HEROIC IDUN had no appropriate documentation for the intended loading operation at Akpo Oil Field, as earlier confirmed by NNPC.“All efforts to get clarification and additional information regarding the loading operation from the shipping agent of Inchcape shipping and owners of Idun maritime Limited proved abortive.”
Having failed the initial test, the source disclosed that the ship was directed to proceed to Bonny Fairway for further investigation. However, it was discovered that the captain of MT HEROIC IDUN deliberately refused to comply with the directive, irrespective of several warnings. Also, the captain was reported to have increased speed and altered course toward Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Zone boundaries so as to evade arrest.
Preliminary investigation, the source said, indicated that the captain claimed that he was directed by the shipping agent not to comply with the order given by the Nigerian Navy Ship.
Despite MT HEROIC IDUN’s recognition and communications with NNS GONGOLA, the captain, while evading arrest, raised a false alarm it was under attack by sea pirates.
Speaking further, the source said: “This misleading action by the MT HEROIC IDUN and her shipping agent gives a strong indication that the vessel was, indeed, in Nigeria to load crude oil illegally and, hence, the desperate defiance to evade arrest.“To further buttress this, the vessel had earlier responded to all questions during the questioning by the Nigerian Navy Ship, thereby affirming its recognition of NNS GONGOLA and dismissing its fabricated claim of coming under attack by sea pirates.”
The source disclosed that the Equatorial Guinea Navy has now arrested the ship with the help of intelligence provided by the Nigerian Navy and the vessel will be appropriately sanctioned for entering the Nigerian waters without due clearance and for resisting instructions and arrest.