From Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Chief of Naval Staff(CNS), Vice Admiral Auwal Gambo, has denied reports making the rounds that MT Heroic Idun vessel, a 3million Barrel-capacity Supertanker lifted crude from the Akpo oilfield terminal.
Gambo, who made this known at a media briefing in Abuja, however noted that the vessel arrived at Akpo field at about midnight on August 7, with the intention of lifting crude oil within the field but was accosted by Nigerian Navy Ship Gongola at the Akpo oilfield terminal.
Represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans(COPP), Rear Admiral Saidu Garba , at the briefing, the CNS, said that the vessel spent 12 hours in the Nigerian maritime domain and barely 20 minutes at the oilfield and had not commenced loading at the said oil field before the Navy ship Gongola accosted it for interrogation and ordered it to Bonny Anchorage .
He said Nigeria lost nothing to the vessel, as NNS Gongola was deployed on 8 August 2022 and interrogated MT Heroic Idun asking critical questions including mission and approval status.
According to him, “on August 7 , 2022, it was observed that a very large crude oil carrier MT Heroic Idun entered the Nigerian maritime environment and headed for Akpo field without any form of authorisation or clearance.MT Heroic Idun (IMO: 9858058) is registered in Marshall Island with an overall length of 336 metre and capacity of 3 million barrels.
Continuing, the CNS, said “The vessel arrived at Akpo field at midnight of 7 August 2022 with the obvious intention of lifting crude oil within the field. This was, however, spotted by the Nigerian Navy Maritime Domain Awareness facility which probed the legitimacy of the very large crude carrier’s presence in the total SA operated by Akpo field.
“The outcome of all relevant enquiries from controlling agency ,NNPC Ltd, revealed that the vessel was not cleared to be in Akpo oil field”
“The Captain of the vessel duly responded to the questions and further stated that the MT Heroic Idun was without relevant clearance to operate in the field.
“Accordingly, the vessel was in line with normal procedure, ordered to turn around and follow NNS Gongola to Bonny anchorage pending when she will be cleared for loading by NNPC Ltd.
He said “the Captain after contacting the master/shipping agent refused to cooperate with NNS Gongola and stated that she had been told not to take directives from the Nigerian Navy Ship”.
While noting that the defiance to constituted authority by the Captain of the vessel necessitated the Navy to invoke the collaboration of neighboring Equatorial Guinea through the Yaounde architecture to arrest the vessel, the CNS, said “I must state that the Nigerian Navy surveillance facility was used to track and constantly update the Equatorial Guinea Navy on the location of the rogue vessel”
“While inside Akpo oil field, MT Heroic Idun approached the single Buoy Mooring between 1143 and 1208 at slow speed of about 3Kn,suggesting likelihood of commencing mooring operations but later aborted that motive and retreated outside the field.