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There are a lot of disinformation about oil theft – Gambo, CNS

Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice-Admiral Awwal Gambo, said there is a lot of disinformation about oil theft in the creeks of Niger Delta, explaining that oil theft is siphoning crude oil, from vandalised pipes, into barges, while oil losses occur when there is non-production, especially, during short-ins and force measures as the Federal Government does not earn the desired revenue it should, in an interview with Channel TV, monitored by Linus Aleke

The need for inter-agency collaboration has been trumpeted by defence and security experts, especially now that Nigeria is faced with multiple security threats including terrorism, how is the Nigerian Navy collaborating with sister services and other security agencies to tackle the security challenges?

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I will say that all over the world, it is a known fact that no organization or agency has proven itself completely capable of addressing crimes, such as terrorism and insurgency alone. And that is the kind of crime that is currently subsisting in the political space of our great country. This means that efficient security will only be realized through collective efforts rather than individual agencies, acting independently. Of course, to this effect, and within the context of military aid to civil authority, the Nigerian Navy (NN), collaborates with sister services and other security agencies on various fronts in tackling insecurity in Nigeria. It is also, noteworthy to state that the Nigerian Navy (NN), instituted inter-agency cooperation as one of its transformation plans, from 2012 to 2030. In it, the inter-agency engagement fosters a special vision, for the accomplishment of maritime security tasks and course information sharing, leading to successful arrests and prosecutions in our operations. I must say that one of the positive outcomes of such cooperation we have with sister services and other security agencies is the launch of the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedure (HSOP), on arrest, detention, and prosecution of vessels and persons in Nigeria, at the maritime environment, which was launched in January 2017. And this document streamlined and harmonised procedures of relevant agencies, on the issues of handling exhibits and suspects of maritime crimes. Considering that prosecution of maritime offences involves several agencies, the enactment of the Supersession of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act of 2019, launched by the incumbent administration, again became necessary as a unified document. As you know, it is there in the public space, that notable convictions, using this legal framework, was the prosecution of 10 pirates that were sentenced by a High Court in Lagos to 12 years imprisonment in July 2021. As crime keeps evolving with new dynamics, strategies and enabling laws will keep being amended to fit the situation that subsists.

Another issue that is often discussed in the public space is the issue of insufficient personnel and inadequate equipment, what is the situation with the Navy?

With regards to equipping the Nigerian Navy (NN), to actualize its constitutional mandate, I will like to, first of all, appreciate the uncommon support of Mr. President, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. His fleet recapitulation support led to the acquisition of several vessels, including, air assets for the Nigerian Navy (NN). In 2021, in particular, the Nigeria Navy (NN), took the delivery of one Hydrographic Survey Ship, which was code-named, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Lana. As I speak, it is currently, surveying Nigerian offshore waters, using state-of-the-art survey equipment on board the ship. This survey that is being carried out is positioning the Nigerian Navy in support of the Federal Government’s commitment toward sustainable development of its blue economy, which, as it is, is the future of the world. All littorals will leverage in the future, on the blue economy. Again, in May 2022, the Nigerian Navy (NN), also took delivery of a new landing ship transport, of hundred (100), metre in length, also code-named Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS), Kada (crocodile), in the Hausa language. It was inducted into the fleet and it has enhanced deterrence against maritime crimes. This is in addition to its unique role, in support of non-kinetic operations. Here, it will serve as a hospital ship when equipped with such, it could deliver humanitarian assistance to any country around the globe, etc., particularly, in support of peace enforcement and peacekeeping operation. On the 6th of August, 2022, the landing ship, transportation embarked on its first official trip with military hardware and logistics for the Nigerian contingent that is deployed to the ECOWAS Stabilization Support Mission at Guinea Bissau. As we speak, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS), Kada just returned from her voyage and is berthed in Lagos, and in furtherance to this, other initiated efforts are ongoing for the construction of two high endurance inshore patrol vessels, which Mr. President approved in August 2021. Very soon, by early September 2022, we will be going to Turkey, Desan Shipyard, for the launching of the two officially, which will flag off the building of the ships, for Nigeria. We also have fast attack crafts and unmanned area vehicles, which are expected in the country by the end of the year. I must not fail to also mention that the Nigerian Navy (NN), indigenous shipbuilding endeavour, which commenced in 2007, has equally yielded dividend with the construction of three seaward defence boats, 43 meters in length, namely we have NNS Andoni, NNS Karaduwa, and NNS Oji, which was commissioned amongst other platforms by Mr. President on 9th December 2021. During the same event, he also led the crew for the construction of the fourth and the fifth seaward defence boats, which are likely going to be pitched around 45 meters and we hope that that will also be delivered in food time. So, the indigenous ship-building effort by the Nigerian Navy (NN), the dockyard is gaining attraction and of course patronage, by some of our neighbours within ECOWAS and ECCAS. Another challenge, we face with the dynamic and reality of the current time is the habit of disseminating unconfirmed and uncomplimentary statements, either due to misinformation or mischievous intentions, regarding our operations. For example, there have been conflicting publications from various sources attributing oil losses to oil theft, which is blamed on inadequate security, thereby casting aspersions on security agencies and all that. In as much as there is no perfect system, the phenomenon of crude oil theft, and crude losses must be properly de-conflicted to proffer a lasting solution to the menace, which is currently bedevilling our economic resource. Here, we need to understand the difference between oil theft and oil loss. While oil theft is siphoning crude oil, from vandalized pipes, into barges, the oil losses occur when there is non-production, especially, during short-ins and force measures as the Federal Government does not earn the desired revenue it should. Loses also occur as a result of metering errors on the operating platforms as read, but the volume of crude oil shot-ins from non-production is often added to the figure for oil theft instead of declaring them as oil losses, which should not be. Some sources also claim that about 20,000 to 200,000 barrels per day are being considered stolen. Most of these claims are outrageous and they are unrealistic. Let us even briefly analyse this, for instance, 100,000 barrels of crude oil is equivalent to 15,800,000 litres of crude oil, which will require a five-ton barge making 3,160 trips per day to convey this product out of the creek. How, do you pass the estuaries with this? Let us even assume that you have many barges because of the time required to carry out this product which means you will entirely close the navigable waters heading out to sea, through the estuaries to tranship them into a mother vessel that will eventually take them out of the country. Of course, this is most unlikely, concerning the heightened presence of security agencies in the maritime environment as well as the subsisting Operation Dakatar Da Barawo by the Nigerian Navy, including the deployment of maritime domain awareness facilities, like the Falcon Eye. These facilities have in the last four weeks detected several vessels attempting to load Crude Oil and Liquefied Natural Gas within our offshore terminals without necessary documentation and approval from relevant authorities like the NNPC. It is after such vessels have been arrested that an updated list with such vessels’ names is forwarded to the Navy to effect release when they are dully programmed to load any of these liquids within our maritime domain. Some incidences that had occurred in the past four to five weeks include the arrest of MT Vivit Arabia, which is an LNG supertanker, which entered the country on the 12th of July, to load Liquefied Natural Gas in Bonny, without relevant documents. We also had the MT Trinity Arrow which, was also arrested for entering without necessary approval and clearance to load LNG on the 12th of July 2022. The latest, of course, which is in the public space is the supertanker MT Heroic Idun, which is 336 meters long and 60 meters wide in breadth. Imagine a size of three football fields and one-third of it. It has the capacity of carrying three million barrels. It entered the space in Akpo field on the 7th of August and was accosted on the 8th of August, while attempting to proceed to the single…at the Apo oil field of course in Bonny without approval, and she refuse to respond to instructions from the Nigerian Navy Ship, which was interrogating her and subsequently preventing her from the loading process which she intended to undertake. The ship subsequently proceeded towards Nigeria-Sao Tome Joint Development Zone and raised false piracy incidence, indicative of her encounter with Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS), which was NNS Gongola anyway. It accused the Nigerian Navy Ship of piracy, knowing clearly that its interaction was with the Nigerian Navy Man of War. So, the ship was eventually arrested on the 10th of August in Equatorial Guinea, through the activation of the collective arrangement of Nigeria with its neighbours, which, Equatorial Guinea is part of, in the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Area. As I speak, arrangements are in progress to hand her over to the Nigerian Navy to conduct an in-depth investigation to unearth the actions of the vessel to ensure a more transparent vessel nomination process for crude oil and liquefied gas loading procedures at various terminals offshore within the Nigerian Navy Hydrocarbon Architecture.

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Is the capturing of this rouge vessel aided by the Nigerian Navy Surveillance Facility, the Falcon Eye?
Of course, Captain David, which is the Equatorial Guinea Naval War Ship, that interdicted, was led by the Falcon Eye onto the objective area where MT Heroic Idun was heading and was successfully arrested. They were not seeing what was happening but they had electronic and paper chats. So, through the Falcon Eye facilities here, they were led to where the MT Heroic Idun was and of course, it was subsequently arrested. As we speak, they are answering for their infractions on the maritime laws of Equatorial Guinea and when they subsequently come here, they will tell us why they came within our maritime space and not only that but also attempted to indict us by raising false piracy alarm. But I must put on a note that through the reporting networks of piracy incidence around the world, we were able to speak to the international maritime bureau to discountenance that particular incidence as null because Heroic Idun positively identified NNS Gongola as a Nigerian Navy War Ship that directed it earlier to proceed to anchorage until when she was due for loading if at all she was even nominated. Because by her subsequent nomination to lift crude oil at Akpo oil field, she was supposed to commence on the 17th of August, which was not yet time and she was not supposed to be there and she was supposed to be loading a little below one million barrel and here she is with a capacity of three million barrels. So, we are convinced that the intent to steal Nigerian crude is very eminent, which was, of course, exemplified by her running away while being asked to proceed to anchorage around Bonny.

We understand that the Nigerian Navy (NN), has its distinct intelligence arm, the Naval Intelligence, how does it contribute to helping the Navy perform its tasks of policing the Nigerian waters and tackling insecurity?
Of course, the Nigerian Navy (NN), has no alternative but to leverage technology. For example, the Nigerian Maritime domain is vast, we are talking about 84,000 nautical miles, which is approximately about 5,000,000 kilometres wide. So, how many platforms will you deploy to cover the space, and of course, it also extends to the Gulf of Guinea covering an exclusive economic zone of about 584,800 square kilometres, which is about 10,000,000 kilometres. So, building from this mass maritime environment, Nigerian vessels cannot be everywhere, hence the importance of intelligence, which of course the Falcon Eye is part of the infrastructure. Intelligence is key in all our operations and, it is also an important tool in the fight against various crimes, including terrorism and insurgency which, currently subsists, not only in Nigeria but across the globe. Considering the limited resources, and the need to meet the operational mandate within our maritime domain, Nigerian Navy (NN), patrols, and our operations generally are intelligence driven for effective results, as well as to save cost on logistics, in addition to human intelligence amongst others. The Nigerian Navy seriously leverages technology like I said earlier, maritime domain awareness facilities are veritable force multipliers. There has positively impacted maritime security operations leading to the arrest of numerous vessels that have violated and of course will still want to violate our maritime laws. Also, it enhances our revenue

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