MT Prestigious Vessel Still In Navy’s Custody – Owners

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Newcross Exploration and Production Limited, the owners of MT Prestigious, a vessel detained by Niger Delta Renaissance Network, a private security firm, for allegedly stealing crude oil, has confirmed that the ship is still under the surveillance and close monitoring of the Navy in Bonny.

The confirmation was contained in an update report issued by the vessel owners and sent to the National Security Advisor, the Chief of Defense Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief Executive Officer of NNPC Limited.

According to the update report, the owners stated that, after the visit by Operation Tantita, the IGP Illegal Bunkering Team to MT Prestigious on May 2, 2024, the team alleged that they had received reports of illegal bunkering activities committed by a vessel with an IMO number matching that of MT Prestigious, the second mother vessel deployed in Bonny to support the Newcross EP barging operations.

A written testimony from Donna Spectre, captain of MT Prestigious who doubles as the representative of the barging vendor, and NewcrossEP representative, confirmed the vessel’s only purpose was to convey crude to Bonny Terminal SBM3.

Consequently, 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.

The presence of officers of the Nigerian Navy aboard the vessels in Bonny makes the allegation by the Niger Delta Renaissance Network that the ship has been released, baseless.

NewcrossEP, however, called for the urgent intervention of NUPRC on the IGP team to ensure that due process is followed, and the stoppage of their operations can be quickly resolved considering the critical role they play in generating value for the nation’s oil and gas sector.

The exploration firm listed the financial implications of the delay, including suspension of more than 100,000 barrels per day in crude oil production; suspension of gas delivery for domestic and export supply to firms such as NLNG; disruption of terminal operations and lifting programmes due to low stock inventory.

It further stated that the impacts listed above represent the interest of key stakeholders and operators that rely on the evacuation solution offered by the vessel.

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