The Nigerian Navy Western Naval Command on Friday disclosed that its Forward Operating Base, (FOB) Igbokoda in Ondo, has arrested a 77- meter-long Motor Tanker (MV) VINNALARIS 1 Lagos for oil theft.
Contained in a statement, the Command said that the FOB in Igbokoda had on Wednesday 6 December 2023 at about 10:00pm detected and arrested the vessel in the early hours of Thursday 7 December 2023 at about 3.00am.
According to the Navy: “The vessel had 17 crew members onboard at the time of arrest, caught engaging in illegal siphoning of crude oil from one of the well heads at EBESAN oil field about 7 nautical miles off the coast of Awoye riverine community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.
“The apprehension of the vessel was based on credible intelligence received by the Base on the illegal activities of crude oil thieves at the location which informed the swift deployment of FOB IGBOKODA personnel to enforce the arrest of the vessel and her crew.”
The Navy said that as the anti-Crude Oil Theft Patrol Team of FOB IGBOKODA approached MT VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS, two boats attached to the vessel fled on sighting the naval personnel, thus confirming the engagement of the vessel in illegality.
It said that “on arrival at the scene, it was discovered that the vessel was actively involved in siphoning crude oil from both sides of the well head. Consequently, upon further search and interrogation, it was further discovered that the vessel had onboard 17 crew members of Nigerian nationality. The vessel’s storage capacity is about 15,000 metric tonnes and as at the time of arrest she had loaded about 500 Metric tonnes of crude oil.”
The navy added that the arrest of MT VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS attests to its determination to curb crude oil theft and all manners of illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime domain.
It vowed to arrest all criminal elements involving in illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime environment, while it advised individuals carrying out legitimate business to go about their legitimate activities and “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.”
The Navy alleged that maritime security firm Tantita Security Services could be involved in the activities of oil theft. It said: “Furthermore, it is believed that Tantita Security Service (TSS) is involved in these illegalities because 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. Nonetheless, 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.”