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Alleged Oil Theft: Owners of 3m Barrels-capacity MT Heroic Idun Apologise to Nigeria

Alleged Oil Theft: Owners of 3m Barrels-capacity MT Heroic Idun Apologise to Nigeria

*OPEC confirms Nigeria produced less than 1m bpd in April

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The owners of MT Heroic Idun, the vessel which was last year accused of attempting to illegally lift crude oil in Nigeria waters without clearance, has apologised to the Nigerian Navy.

The alleged 3 million barrels-capacity rogue tanker, which made the news at the time, was eventually moved from Bioko in Equatorial Guinea, where it had escaped and returned to Nigerian waters after negotiations between both countries.
The Nigerian Navy had expressed anger after the crew members of the large facility raised a false alarm on its personnel that were attempting to probe into their activities, tagging them sea pirates.

In November 2022, a Nigerian court ordered that all the 26 crew members of the vessel be remanded inside the ship until the commencement of their trial. The vessel had 16 foreign crewmembers, who are citizens of Poland, India, Sri-Lanka and Pakistan. Others were Nigerian.

They were accused of  unlawful entrance into Akpo oil field in Nigeria, raising false piracy alarm to avoid arrest and an attempt to lift crude oil without clearance, thereby violating sections of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act 2019.
However, THISDAY learnt that the crew which was earlier arrested and prosecuted for the criminal offence, was released after fulfilment of a plea bargain agreement with the federal government.

“At 2130 hours on August 8, 2022, the tanker Heroic Idun (IMO: 9858058) received voyage orders to approach the Akpo Terminal to load a cargo of oil. While waiting to load, the vessel was approached by what the owners now know was a Nigerian patrol vessel.
“Heroic Idun was ordered to follow the patrol vessel back to Bonny. Subsequently, this approach has been reported as what was thought at the time to be a possible piracy attack.

“The owners, on behalf of their vessel and crew, wish to publicly apologise to the federal government of Nigeria for that report and express their sincere regret for the difficulties presented to the navy and any embarrassment that may have resulted from this incident.
“At no time did the owners wish to undermine the reputation of the Nigerian navy or the efforts undertaken by the Nigerian Navy in countering piracy and oil theft in Nigerian waters.

“Following issuance of the court order on May 9, 2023, the owners are pleased that this unfortunate incident has now been resolved and are grateful for the Nigerian authorities’ assistance in reaching this conclusion,” Idun Maritime Limited, stressed.
The organisation added that it was looking forward to being able to repatriate its crew back to their families and to successful future trading activities within Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has confirmed that Nigeria only produced  999,000bpd in April, losing 270,000 bpd of oil compared to its 1.268 million bpd production figure in March.

The information is coming after a period of seeming respite, with Nigeria’s crude oil production falling to a seven-month low, a blow to recent gains made from the renewed efforts by the federal government to tackle oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta.

The OPEC data released in its latest Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) for May also aligned with data obtained from the industry regulator, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), last week.

The depleted production figure last month was partly connected with the shutting down of oil platforms and declaration of force majeure by Exxon Mobil in Nigeria mid last month, especially at the Qua Iboe asset.
 The decision to declare force majeure followed an industrial action by the company’s in-house workers union, the company said in a statement in April, THISDAY learnt.

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