Barely a month after seizing a suspicious vessel with a cargo of 800,000 litres of stolen crude oil, Tantita Security Services, a private security contractor of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, has intercepted another vessel loaded with crude oil suspected to be stolen.
The 1,117 tons vessel carrying about 8,100 barrels of crude was intercepted on Wednesday in the Koko area of Delta State by the Tanita Security Services.
According to reports, the vessel, MT PRAISEL, was being escorted by some naval officers.
Tanita Security is a private security firm controlled by Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, an ex-Niger Delta agitator.
Personnel of the Security outfit claimed the vessel was flying a Togolese flag and was being escorted by a Navy boat led by a senior naval captain.
According to the Tanita operators, they encountered opposition from the navy boat escorting the vessel, and the naval captain vowed to deal with them decisively.
However, the private operators stated that they would not back down.
They eventually contacted the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu and the Chief of Naval Staff, Emmanuel Ogalla, who gave them permission to visit the vessel.
The security company claimed that upon entering the ship, they noticed that the vessel was authorised to carry products by the navy but did not have any approvals from the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, the authority responsible for the regulation of Nigeria’s midstream and downstream petroleum operations, for this voyage.
The incident came on the heels of the Federal Government’s claim that the illegal sale of stolen crude oil costs Nigeria N2.3 trillion in economic losses in a year.
Last month, Tantita Security Services intercepted a suspicious vessel with a cargo of 800,000 litres of crude oil on board on July 7, 2023.
Preliminary investigations, according to the NNPC, revealed that the crude oil cargo onboard was illegally sourced from a well jacket offshore Ondo State.
“There was no valid documentation for the Vessel or the Crude Oil Cargo onboard at the time of the arrest,” NNPC said.
Further investigation into the activities of the vessel at the NNPC Ltd. Command and Control Centre also revealed that the Vessel was operating in stealth mode for the last 12 years.
The last reported location of the Vessel was Tin Can Port in July 2011.
“Details of this arrest and the outcomes of the investigations were escalated to the appropriate government authorities, upon which it was concluded to destroy the Vessel to serve as a strong warning and deterrent to all those participating in such illegal activities to cease and desist.
“Destroying vessels involved in transporting stolen crude oil is of paramount importance as a strong deterrent. The illegal trade of stolen crude oil not only inflicts significant economic losses on Nigeria and legitimate stakeholders in the oil industry, but also perpetuates a cycle of corruption, environmental devastation, and social instability,” the company said.
The NNPC assured Nigerians that it will sustain the momentum in the war against crude oil theft until it is brought to a halt.