By MarEx 2015-10-01 12:00:53
The Nigerian military has seized the M/T Askja which is suspected 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.
According to local reports, the Joint Task Force also raided and shut down several illegal refineries where stolen crude oil was being distilled.
Nigeria has been a hotbed for maritime piracy recently, and claims that it loses nearly $20 million per year due to oil theft. This incident comes just weeks after 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.
Shortly after the lifting of the tanker ban, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) advised its members against accepting any vessel which was on Nigeria’s list of banned tankers either into Nigeria or its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
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.