8 million barrels of seized crude disappear in naval custody

What happened to the 8.5 million barrels of crude oil in the bowel of MT Vanessa, the foreign vessel arrested by the Nigerian navy last week?

After one week of snubbing the House of Representatives upstream petroleum committee investigating oil bunkering in the Niger Delta, naval chiefs showed up Thursday claiming that the vessel was not laden with crude oil and that media reporting that gave the impression were flat out wrong.

This new mystery around the presumed content of MT Vanessa confirms the worry of members of the committee who had voiced out loudly that the tradition of disappearing crude contents in ships seized by the navy must not repeat itself this time.

“We don’t want to hear that the content of the ship has disappeared,” chairman of the committee, Muraina Ajibola, had said on Wednesday while insisting the committee would only receive presentation from the Chief of Naval Staff, Ola Ibrahim.

Mr. Ajibola said the ship contained 8.5m barrels of crude oil, and later named a sub-committee to, within 72 hours, verify the situation with the ship. The committee also directed the navy to hand over the ship to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The lawmakers had earlier blamed the Navy for not providing adequate security and coastal patrol through where stolen oil are siphoned across daily with attendant loss for the nation nearing N1 trillion annually, according to industry experts. 

Shell Nigeria, told the committee on Tuesday 150,000 barrels of its crude are stolen from the pipelines, moved through barges to waiting ships, many foreign, offshore.

Nigeria Agip Oil Company said it loses about One million barrels monthly. The multinationals say the oil cartels, operated like illicit drug trade, should have been minimized if security patrols in the waterways had been heightened. The naval authorities have announced the arrest of several illegal oil-laden ships in the past.

But with many of the vessels later reported to have escaped, the lawmakers have pointed at the possible collusion between government officials, security agents and the illegal oil traders.

But contrary to the claims of the committee, the Chief of Naval Staff, Mr. Ibrahim, who appeared on Thursday after the committee warned of arrest, denied the vessel was arrested with crude oil aboard.

Vice Admiral Ibrahim said there were wrong media reportage of the seized ship. He also disputed the claims of the committee that ship was French. He said it was a Belgian.

After the disclosure, the hearing went into executive session.

The CNS said oil theft thrived due to the connivance of insiders who worked in oil companies before, lack of information sharing between security agencies as well a ready international market for the product.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Oluseyi Petinrin, who also appeared, said the military had made fresh initiatives on how to stem the trade by registering all boats and barges plying Nigerian coastal waters.

The Defence chief apologized for not attending the committee’s previous sittings. In addition, the boats or barges conveying crude oil must also be registered with an oil producing company.

“With the registrations, we would be able to have the identity of the owners in the event of any occurrence,” he said. “There were instances where my men would apprehend some of these boats but the next thing is that they will just jump into the water and swim away abandoning the boat.”

The CDS blamed regulatory agencies partly for encouraging the illegal trade by not having proper documentation of the boats and barges operating in the Niger Delta region.

Prior to the intervention of the Defence Headquarters, oil companies were recording loss of 9 million barrels of crude monthly, he said.




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  • Felix Udoh

    This is just how not to run a country. Dead penalty for corruption if found.

    • Zazzau

      Felix, not only dead penalty, but let the person’s family paid for the ammunition, the allowance to be paid to the firing squad etc. This is just ridiculous. $ 850 Million, just imagine how many jobs this are going to generate both direct and indirectly.

  • Abdullahi Shehu Ibrahim

    Fraud, robbery, bombings and murder have characterized the Nigerian government usurpation of our country. Why, for the last fifty years we have been robbed of hundreds of billions in the matter of taxes, natural resources and many other assets meant for improving the lives of Nigerians.

    It is time we wake up and return back to our right frame of mind, put hands together and fight for the survival of our country and for transparancy and accountabilty in government. YES! We can do it collectively! We should not allow these thieves and robbers to push it to a grave.

  • Patzack55

    $850 million US dollars just gone into some private pockets? Just like that? No taxes, just someones pocket? Haba, the business of corruption is ceratinly the best paying business and Nigerians deserve an applause for teaching the world it can lead in something.

  • Alphonsusduniya

    What is really wrong with this government of this country. We should sell this country to someone else and share the money because I have toiled enough for this country for no gain. If not I am foreseeing a revolution. Somebody help me.

    • Mydesire20003

      Our government treats us as waste material because of our collective inability to stage massive acts of noncooperation and defiance against their brazen displays of madness and irresponsibility. The day we start seeing our duties in preserving our rights to dignity and humaneness, we shall be free……As for the perceived revolution, i have been praying for it for over 13 months…….very soon..

  • M

    Rubbish. If there was no crude oil in the ship, how come it was of interest to you guys in the first place? When trying to support a pyramid of lies…by telling more lies, the truth eventually gives way. Are they trying to say they seized an empty vessel with no evidence on board all this while?

    This confirms that the navy are key players in crude oil bunkering in Nigeria.