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Details of how Nigerian military set ablaze the ship intercepted by Tompolo conveying stolen crude oil to Ghana

Details of how Nigerian military set ablaze the ship intercepted by Tompolo conveying stolen crude oil to Ghana

Details of how Nigerian military set ablaze the ship intercepted by Tompolo conveying stolen crude oil to Ghana

The illegal oil bunkering vessel recently arrested with about 600 to 650 tons of illegally lifted crude oil in five compartments in Niger Delta creek was on Monday, October 10, 2022, destroyed by Officers of the Nigerian Military along Warri River in Delta state.

GbaramatuVoice had earlier reported that operatives of the newly-contracted private oil pipeline surveillance team, Tantita Security Services, effected the vessel’s arrest alongside its eight-member crew, on October 6, 2022, on the Escravos axis in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state, whilst crude oil was being loaded illegally into the ship.

ALSO READ: Nigerian military sets ablaze vessel caught loading illegal crude oil in Delta by Tompolo and his men

GbaramatuVoice was at the creek where the vessel was set on fire at exactly 2:04pm by security agencies in the presence of the Group General Manager of the National Petroleum Investments Management Services, Mr Bala Wunti.

Eight persons were on board the vessel, MT Deima, with IMO number 7210525.

Speaking to newsmen shortly before the vessel was set ablaze, the Marine Intelligence Consultant to Tantita Security Services Limited, Mr. Warredi Enisuoh, said the vessel has been under investigation for a long time.

He said records showed that the arrested Dutch vessel, sold to a Nigerian, had been variously, “used for moving crude oil illegally for years,” disclosing that she was scheduled to take the stolen crude to Tema in Ghana.

He said the vessel is about 87 metres long, which has six cargo hole tanks made up of 12 compartments.
According to him, the ship is not designed as an ocean going vessel, but a river vessel which was converted to be used in the ocean for illegal operation.

Enisuoh said, “I will say that the crew were quite smart, but they were not smarter than the country and the NNPC.
“So, what has happened is that it is among the lists of vessels being monitored constantly. It has been evading authorities for quite a while now and its route is very funny.

“It has been frequenting the Niger-Delta at the same time carrying crude illegally to Ghana, precisely Tema. That is the place where they normally go for discharge.”

He explained that an ambush was laid by security agencies for the ship which eventually yielded success on October 6.
He stated that as soon as the crew on illegal operation ferried into the ambush, they were arrested on the spot where they were pumping crude oil into their vessels.

Enisuoh stated further, “An ambush was laid for this particular vessel and it fell into it on the 6th of October. What happened is that it came in to load, and they brought the ship from Escravos side inside the creeks where they didn’t know we were waiting and we allowed them to connect the hoses from the Escravos pipeline and from there, they started pumping crude into it. They were taken by surprise.

“The line is a major line that goes to the Chevron Terminal. Actually, there are about five compartments that stored crude oil and the total quantity is about 650 cubic metres of crude oil separated into several compartments because they couldn’t finish the operation as a result of the arrival of Tantita Security, they abandoned their mission.

“They didn’t go into a Terminal, they went illegally into the Bush. The creek where criminals connect their hoses to the major line and started pumping the crude out of the credible line to an incredible ship. That was what happened.”

On the identities of those arrested in the illegal operation, he said after their profiling, it was discovered that seven of them are Nigerians.

Enisuoh added, “So far, for this crude, there are seven of them and all of them are Nigerians by their names. The captain of the crew said they were hijacked, but by the documents, we have proved otherwise.

“According to the captain, he joined this ship actually two and half months ago, but records taken from this ship shows that this ship was detained in Nigeria back in September 2021 and the documents also showed that the vessel was handed over and released and he was the captain on board at the time.

“He (captain) said this is the first time that he is on this ship. If it is the first time he is on this ship and the ship was detained with him on board in September 2021, then he has been here for more than a year.”

Speaking during an interview shortly after the destruction of the ship, Wunti said the rule of engagement has been strictly adhered to in carrying out the exercise.

He said if the vessel was not destroyed, those operating it will continue to find a way to use such illegal operations as a platform to sabotage Nigeria’s economy.

He said, “If those vessels are not destroyed, they will destroy Nigeria. So it is a decision that needs to be done. Anything that touches on the fabric of Nigerian security must be dealt with in line with the rule of engagement so, the rule of engagement is quite clear.

When asked why the issue of crude oil theft was left to linger for this long without being addressed, Wunti explained that the crisis has reached an unprecedented level that must be tackled with utmost vigour.

The NAPIMS Boss said, “They say necessity is the mother of invention. In the history of the Nigerian oil and gas operations, this is the most unprecedented period that we have ever seen.

“I have been in this industry for over 27 years and I can tell you I have never seen anything like this. The situation that we are in today compelled every player to come together and collaborate.

“Hitherto, everybody was going his own way but we have realized that together we are stronger, together we can be in a better position to confront this menace and I think that is where we are.

“That is what led to the Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Ltd, Mr Mele Kyari setting up industry wide security architecture which is anchored around four thematic angles.

“For example today, one of the contractors, Tantita Security Service, is the one that made this apprehension.

“Hitherto, we didn’t have this. We have been operating in a silo and that silo has broken down. We are now deploying technology at all levels. We have a command and control centre and in that control centre, we are able to see all the activities that are happening.

“We carry out detection, we witness the deterrence and we respond quickly through our incident response reporting portal and security agencies are able to respond quickly together with the private security contractors to apprehend whatever that is happening.”

With the successes so far recorded in the fight against crude oil thieves, Wunti expressed optimism that the country will soon start seeing massive increase in oil production

He added, “I think there is no doubt that we have made significant success in terms of detection, deterrence and in terms of response.

“What is now left is for Nigerians to start witnessing the recovery journey and I think before the end of the month, you will see the benefits of all the architecture that have been put in place.

“We have anticipated that this architecture will start yielding results in 90 days, but with what we are seeing, we will start seeing results in about 60 days. We are in our 40 days and we believe in another ten days we will start seeing results.

“We are already seeing some signs. Some of the numbers that are being produced by Chevron are increasing and some other operators are increasing. We believe that Nigerians will feel a sign of relief on this.”


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