16th March, 2012
A further confirmation of the brazen way some unscrupulous Nigerian ship owners collaborate to steal the nation’s crude oil came from Accra recently when a Nigerian tanker, MT Madina, was detained by that country’s security agencies while attempting to discharge allegedly stolen crude oil at the Saltpond Offshore Producing Company Limited.
The owners of the vessel, who reportedly alerted security operatives along the west coasts reported that the Madina was supposed to transfer oil from a small field in Nigeria into a larger ship, identified as the MT North Wind Grace, but the captain and crew instead decided to steal the cargo.
Consequently, the owners of the vessel alerted the Benin and Ghana security and subsequently traced the ship to Ghana.
The Ghana Armed Forces said over the weekend that it had detained the MT Madina whilst it was attempting discharge the oil that was stolen from Nigeria.
Colonel M’Bawine Atintande, Director of Public Relations of the Ghana Armed Forces, said the ship was arrested after a tip-off from counterparts in Nigeria.
A story, quoting reliable foreign sources, reported that, oil thieves in Nigeria cart way about 150,000 barrels of crude oil daily. Experts put the average cost at about $16million or N2.5 billion, calculated at oil price price of $105 per barrel and a naira exchange rate of about N160 to a dollar.
According to the experts, oil theft is either carried out by pirates who hijack oil-laden tankers or by militants and hoodlums who cut pipelines or use explosives to blow up pipes and siphon the oil into waiting ships
The influential International Maritime Bureau (IMB) had also disclosed that Nigerian ship owners (identities withheld) have also been named in some cases where “pirates seize tankers and leave them stationary off the coast, transferring the cargoes to a Nigerian tanker by night.
“These indigenous ships often shuttle between Cotonou and Lagos and the Niger Delta, many of them are permanently on layby, awaiting patronage form unscrupulous owners of stolen oil,” it was gathered.