The Equatorial Guinea has announced that its Navy has in its cutidy the MV Heroic Idun, a super tanker, a Very Large Crude Carrier, VLCC, belonging to a class of large oil tanker, which fled from Nigeria after an alleged illegal attempt to load at the Akpo field.
According to ship tracking sites, MV Heroic Idun arrived Nigeria’s Akpo field on August 8 but beat a hasty retreat towards Sao Tome and Principe before it was arrested.
According to CRESMAO, the Marshall Islands-registered tanker issued an alarm saying there had been an attempted boarding some 10-15 nautical miles off Akpo, on August 9. The alleged pirate attack was actually the Nigerian Navy seeking clarification on the Heroic Idun’s authority to load, CRESMAO later clarified.
CRESMAO added that following the clarification-seeking attempt, the Nigerian Navy ordered the vessel to head to the Bonny Fairway Buoy for further checks as it does as it did not appear that the vessel had requisite loading permit from the Nigerian authorities or even the permission to be in Nigerian waters. But the captain refused the order and instead altered course towards Sao Tome and Principe.
“The captain of the tanker refused to co-operate and rather altered course towards Sao Tome and Principe,” the agency noted.
“The tanker deliberately raised a false alarm to [International Maritime Bureau] IMB that she was under pirate attack.” it added.
Thereafter, the Equatorial Guinea Navy stepped in and stopped the tanker on the afternoon of August 12, offshore the island of Annobon, according to Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue. The vessel was then escorted to Luba, arriving on August 13.
Vice President Mangue, who made the announcement, noted that the VLCC was trading in “illegal fuel”, adding that the Nigerian Navy alerted Equatorial Guinea to the tanker’s escape.
According to him, Equatorial Guinea’s detention of the vessel “is a sign that the only weapon to protect the coasts of the Gulf of Guinea is collaboration between the countries.”
Sold to an unidentified buyer, (pointed to by Splash 247 as DAO Shipping) in July 22 by Norway’s Hunter Group, MV Heroic Idun visited Singapore in June, arriving in South Africa in mid-July, onward Nigeria.
Although both the Hunter Group and Anglo Eastern, which manages the vessel, are yet to respond to a request for comment, TotalEnergies representative said the company has nothing to do with MV Hunter’s activities under review. The company confirmed however, that Heroic Idun did not offload oil at Akpo but was within 10 nautical miles of the FPSO.
Piracy and other offshore crimes have receded in the Gulf of Guinea in recent times. According to an International Maritime Bureau, IMB, report, out of the 58 incidents recorded within the first half of 2022, only 12 of the number took place in the Gulf of Guinea. The reason, it says, is as a result of the existing maritime security cooperation among member countries.