Alleged Release Of Ship: “Vessel Under NN Surveillance, Monitoring, Custody” – Ship Owner

A spurious allegation that the Nigerian Navy has released a detained vessel arrested by a private security company for allegedly engaging in stealing of crude oil, has been debunked as untrue by the owner, Newcross Exploration and Production Limited.

It stated that the vessel is still under the custody of the Nigerian Navy.

This was disclosed by the owners of the vessel in an update issued to the National Security Advisor, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited.

In a recent reports, a Niger-Delta Group, “the Niger Delta Renaissance Network,” had alleged that the Nigerian Navy released the vessel arrested by a private security firm for allegedly stealing crude oil.

However, in a twist, the vessel owner, Newcross Exploration And Production Limited, denounced the phantom claim of the vessel being released, reiterating that she was still under the surveillance and close monitoring by the Nigerian Navy in Bonny.

These facts were stated in a statement on Wednesday by the vessel owners to the National Security Advisor, the Chief of Defense Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited, Newcross Exploration And Production Limited, said that after the visit by the IGP Illegal Bunkering Team (“Operation Tantita”) to MT Prestigious which occurred on May 2, 2024, the team alleged that they had received reports of illegal bunkering activities of a vessel with an IMO number matching MT Prestigious WD, the 2nd mother vessel deployed in Bonny to support the NewcrossEP barging operations.

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Although no clear evidence of the allegations was shared, written testimony was taken from the MT Prestigious Captain, Donna Spectre (barging vendor) Representative, and NewcrossEP representative confirming the vessels only purpose is to convey crude to Bonny Terminal SBM3.

However, it was learnt that a request was made to collect cargo samples for fingerprinting which cannot be granted without the written approval of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the presence of an independent laboratory.

At the moment, it was gathered that Officers and men of the Nigerian Navy were sighted on board the vessels in Bonny, which has further confirmed the spuriousness of the allegations against the force by the Niger Delta Renaissance Network.

However, the vessel owners have also spoken on the urgent need for intervention of NUPRC on the IGP team to ensure that due process is followed and the stoppage to their operations can be quickly resolved considering the critical role they play in generating value for the nation.

Newcross Exploration And Production Limited, further added that the potential impact of this delay has numerous financial implications for the Nation, which are: “Suspension of more than 100kbopd in crude oil production; Suspension of gas delivery for domestic and export supply (e.g. NLNG); and disruption of terminal operations and lifting programmes due to low stock inventory.”

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