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Navy insists MT Praisel vessel was not carrying stolen crude, TSSL alleges cover up

The Nigerian Navy has clarified that the vessel intercepted by Tantita Security Services Limited (TSSL) was not stolen crude oil.

This declaration was made by the Director of Naval Information, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, in Abuja on Sunday.

Tantita Security outfit (a private security company owned by Government Ekpemupolo, popularly called Tompolo) had on Wednesday intercepted the 1,117-tonne vessel which was carrying about 8,100 barrels of crude.

The Navy had said that MT Praisel was approved by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) to load 1,114,721 Litres of High Pour Fuel Oil (HPFO) from Greenmac Energy Storage/Tarus Jetty Koko from July 26 to August 8, 2023.

What the Navy is saying

According to Ayo-Vaughan, results of the laboratory analysis of the product on-board MT PRAISEL by all agencies including NMDPRA indicate that it displayed properties consistent with Nigerian industrial standard specification for HPFO.

  • “This result, therefore, proves that the allegation and suspicion were totally wrong, unfounded, and perhaps mischievous. The intelligence report which TSSL claimed to have received in respect of the vessel and its product is equally wrong.”
  • “This singular incident brings to the fore the high-handedness and unprofessional conduct of TSSL with its attendant negative consequences for the supplier and buyer of the product.”
  • “It also has negative consequences for the vessel hired to convey the product and other parties involved in the legitimate business’’.

TSSL Raises Cover-Up Allegations

Tantita Security Services Nigeria Ltd. claimed that the Navy’s declaration was a cover-up, even though it admitted that the product on the vessel was not stolen crude oil.

In response to the Navy’s declaration, Tantita Security Services Nigeria Ltd. raised questions about the discrepancies between NMDPRA’s approved port of discharge (Lagos Offshore), the naval clearance (Koko as storage), and the port of discharge stated in the Navy’s press statement (Bonny).

Tantita called for a single clearing house for all approvals to ensure transparency and enable each government agency to access approved information from others.

Tompolo said,

  • “On Aug. 1, 2023, Tantita received a credible intelligence report that a vessel, which had got NMDPRA approval to deliver HPFO from Koko to Lagos Offshore would proceed in the opposite direction.
  • “On Aug. 2, 2023, Tantita operatives approached the MT PRAISEL as it made its way through a creek in Delta, off the Benin River.
  • “On board, the vessel were naval personnel, while the Tantita inspection crew included officers and men of Operation Delta Safe (the inter-service task force for fighting crude oil theft).
  • “The intelligence suggested that the vessel ought to be sailing to Lagos, but the master of the vessel showed he was sailing to Bonny.”

Navy Calls for Professionalism in Maritime Security

Ayo-Vaughan reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian Navy to support efforts to halt economic saboteurs and fight against crude oil theft within the ambit of the law and with the best professional conduct.

He stressed that proper precaution must be adhered to by all stakeholders to avoid unnecessary impediments to legitimate commercial activities and businesses in the maritime environment.

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