Stakeholders and operators in the oil and gas industry have expressed concerns about safety of assets within Nigeria and offshore, especially with renewed pipeline vandalism and kidnapping of crew members of a Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC) that was hijacked close to the Total’s Egina floating production storage and offloading (FPSO).
According to them, the situation calls for concern, especially in relation to how the country attracts new investments in an unsecured environment. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), however, said the relevant authorities are working vigorously to secure the release of the abductees, while expressing its readiness to fast-track maritime security architecture.
The Nave Constellation, a Hong Kong flagged, 296,988 dwt crude oil tanker was boarded on Tuesday, as it was preparing for departure after loading at Bonny Island, an offshore terminal located 77 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria before heading to the Far East.
Crew members were kidnapped and the tanker ordered to go to a “safe location,” Navios Maritime Holding said, adding that the flag state has been informed of the incident, along with other necessary authorities. The tanker is understood to have sustained no damage in the process.“It’s big news, as it is the first time this has happened (to a VLCC) to my knowledge. Normally, pirates attack smaller product tankers and steal the cargo,” said a tanker broker active in the region.
“We can already imagine it will have an impact on insurance premiums but it is hard to assess until you see the next offers on cargoes,” said a second industry source. A VLCC tanker broker based in India, a popular destination for crude oil stems from Nigeria, added: “This is a really bad situation, and will raise flags with insurance companies.” More information will be provided as events develop further, Navios said.
This year, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), and operators of the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL), have decried the continued loss of oil revenue due to vandalism of oil pipelines and facilities in-country this year alone.In financial terms, Nigeria may have lost not less than $126.3billion in revenue ($63.48/barrel) to the continued act of vandalism from NCTL alone, while SPDC’s loss to crude theft peaked at 11,000 barrels of oil daily in 2018. External Relations Manager, Total E&P Nigeria Limited, Charles Ebereonwu told The Guardian that the matter is a security matter and he has no competence to comment on it.
The Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf, urged oil firms and the NNPC to review strategies deployed in protecting oil assets. According to him, it was high time operators explored technology to address the security concerns, while deepening relationships with the communities where they have assets.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, yesterday, said that the Agency is working with relevant authorities to ensure the crews onboard are secured and safe. Peterside, wh o spoke on the sidelines of the ongoing National Transportation Summit, in Abuja, said: “The operators of the vessel made contact with NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy, and we immediately went to work.”He disclosed that, “the vessel owners had operated for 10 days within our territorial waters, yet didn’t establish contact with the Harbour Masters. It also didn’t establish contact with the authorities in Nigeria.”
He added: “However, that isn’t an issue because life is more precious than any other consideration. We have also immediately contacted the naval unit around that area and they have gone to work. The Navy has established contact with the remaining crew members onboard the vessel and the nine persons onboard the vessel, are safe and the vessel is safe.”Peterside, who decried that this is happening at a time efforts were being put together to make Nigerian waterways safer, also assured that the Agency would not rest on its oars.
“I think this would ultimately serve as catalyst for us to fast-track what we are doing to safeguard our waterways so that commerce can thrive again, and people can do economic activities without fear or hindrance,” he said.While sympathising with the victims and their families for the ordeal and challenges of being kidnapped, he urged every concerned citizen and stakeholders to come together and work with NIMASA and relevant security agencies to end the menace.
The Chairman, Oil Producers’ Trade Section, Paul McGrath, also urged operators to collaborate on security as well as on shared services to protect assets and reduce production costs. In its reaction to the pipeline fire outbreak in Lagos, yesterday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), confirmed the oil pipeline fire outbreak along Atlas Cove-Mosimi Pipeline, otherwise, called System 2B in Baruwa Swamp area of Lagos.
The Corporation said preliminary reports of the incident indicated that the pipeline might have been torched by act of vandalism by suspected oil thieves, who had hacked into the line to intercept flow of petrol. According to the Acting Group General Manager, Samson Makoji, NNPC, in conjunction with the Lagos State Fire Service, had deployed various categories of personnel to the scene to bring the fire under control.NNPC assured the general public that the pipeline will be put back into operation shortly, while the breach has no impact on petroleum products supply in the area.It equally confirmed that it has 116million litres of PMS in Mosimi Depot, 7.5million litres in Satellite Depot and 35million litres in Ibadan depots, all within System 2B network.