18 November 2012

Nigeria: Crude Theft - Navy Intercepts 17 Vessels

Seventeen ships laden with tens of millions of barrels of crude oil suspected to have been stolen were arrested by the navy.

The ships were intercepted by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Thunder and seven other naval vessels during a joint military fleet evaluation exercise named Exercise Farauta (hunting) near Bonny and Bonga oil platforms, Rivers and Delta states.

A total of eight war ships including Thunder, six gun boats, one maritime patrol aircraft and over 400 personnel participated in the exercise in Gulf of Guinea between November 11 and 17.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba told journalists at media briefing yesterday on board Thunder that the exercise was meant to boost the capacity of the navy in maritime security and to serve as deterrence to oil thieves and pirates.

He said 17 vessels loaded with crude oil suspected to have been stolen were interrogated during the exercise. Two of the vessels were arrested and detained.

"One of the vessels we arrested is suspected of carrying excess oil over the approved quantity she is to carry while the other has incomplete papers as far as the naval headquarters is concerned. Both will be investigated," the naval chief explained.

Some of the suspected vessels being interrogated are MT Garroch, MT Energy, MV Gulf Sisan Laden while MT Androussa and MT Aegean Horizon were detained for further investigations.

He said the Bonga oil platforms are key to the country's economy because they produce over "200,000 barrels of crude per day" in addition to gas and other resources but it requires the support of the government to provide absolute security in the area as a result of maritime terrorism.

The chief said both the government and the private sector need to support the navy, adding that the army together with the navy and the air force carried out aerial surveillance during the exercise.

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