Operatives of Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited (TSSL) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Bayelsa State arrested a ship laden with 200,000 litres of stolen crude.
The captain of the vessel, MT KALI, arrested in Bayelsa State on Thursday, Jan. 11, stunned security agents and reporters by claiming ignorance of the content of the ship.
“I’m battling with how the vessel got filled with crude oil instead of diesel (Automated Gas Oil),” Captain David Adeboye said while fielding questions from reporters yesterday, Jan. 14.
During their parade of the crew members and some local accomplices at Oporoza in Warri Southwest Local Government Area of Delta State, Adeboye said they were test-running the vessel when they got a directive to head to Bayelsa State.
He explained that they sailed from a base in Lagos where the vessel was anchored for over one year for maintenance.
Adeboye, who gave the name of their boss simply as Niyi, added the crew was asked to test-run the vessel for 10 miles to certify that it was fit for a long trip.
He said: ”When we set out from Lagos State where the boat had been in for more than a year. They were doing some maintenance on it. So, when we came out, we were instructed to test run the engine for like 10 miles. After 10 miles if we are satisfied that she can go as far as Bayelsa, then we should let them know.
“After two hours, we got to know that one of the engines was not working.
“But the management gave us instruction to go to Bayelsa and bring Automotive Gasoline Oil (AGO) to Lagos.
“The original plan was to load AGO, at which point it now turned to crude, that is what I am still battling with up till now.
“Currently, we have 119 tonnes of crude oil on board the vessel. The agent brought his boys and at the end of the day filled the vessel with crude.”
TSSNL Director of Operations and Technical, Warredi Enisuoh, said the vessel was intercepted at about 12:25 am on Thursday, Jan. 11, stealing crude oil from one of the several platforms at Pennington Oil Field, Southern Ijaw.
Enisuoh revealed that the vessel was on TSSL’s watch list following intelligence report.
He said: “A few weeks ago, we have been interested in MT KALi because it has been operating in Nigeria and the International waters illegally carrying crude oil and AGO.
“This time around it was unable to carry out its act successfully. Intelligence came to us and we processed and shared it on a need-to-know basis so that the operation would be successful.
“The ship left Lagos a couple of days ago and switched off its AIS. Then we knew it was coming to the Niger Delta.
“Further intelligence revealed that it was coming to Penitin Oil Field to load illegal crude oil in Bayelsa.
“On getting to the environment, we alerted our base at Sokebolou in Bayelsa where the operation was launched.”
Enisuoh added that three persons were seen on top of the oil platform, adding that one was connecting the hose to discharge the content from below the seabed into the ship.
According to him, there are about 14 platforms and two oil wells in the area.
“It is difficult to detect which oil well was hot enough to discharge its content without the aid of a mechanical pump.
“That means there must have been an insider. It was a ship and shore connection that was able to bring the operation to a success,” he said
Enisuoh said that on arrival, the NSCDC operatives helped TSSL personnel to overpower the suspects.
He said that those campaigning against private security companies’ participation in the fight against oil theft were the “bunkerers.”
“We will continue to be resilient and we will definitely assist the country in resolving this issue of oil theft. We will assist also the Nigerian security forces, which are happy to participate in securing our assets to do this job,” he said.