Based on the recent maritime safety and security reports, it is evident that Nigeria has been a hotbed for maritime piracy and theft. In early September, Nigeria lifted a two-month ban on 113 tankers operating in its sovereign waters. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corp instituted the ban on July 15 to curb alleged illegal crude shipments out of the country. The tankers were prohibited from entering oil facilities and territorial waters.
M/T Askja, a crude oil tanker has been seized by the Nigerian military in suspect of transporting stolen crude oil. The tanker was anchored along the Forcados estuary outside of Warri City when Niger Delta’s Joint Task Force raided the ship. Local authorities have arrested the eight pirates aboard the Askja. It was reported that the Joint Task Force has raided and seized several other illegal refineries where the stolen crude oil was being distilled. It has been claimed that Nigeria loses nearly $20 million per year due to oil theft.
In a statement, INTERTANKO said: “While some are interpreting this latest letter as a lifting of the ban, we continue to advise against trading to Nigeria any ship on the banned list. The penalties for any alleged contraventions of Nigerian law by these ships are draconian, including forfeiture of the ship and life imprisonment of the crew.”
Nigeria has destroyed 200 illegal refineries, 58 oil barges and arrested more than 80 pirate vessels in its ongoing battle against maritime piracy and oil theft.