The Nigerian Navy has reportedly burned an oil vessel stated as “MV Cecilia/Cecelia”. On August 16, the Nigerian Navy , Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, intercepted the oil vessel which was loaded with nearly 350,000 litres of stolen Automated Gas Oil (AGO). The operation took place in Woji, Obio-Akpor Local Government Area based in Port Harcourt metropolis, Rivers State in Nigeria.
Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the theft of the product. According to the Navy, the vessel with a storage capacity of over 350,000 barrels of crude, was to be a service boat, however it was converted to a storage tank for illegally refined products.
According to the Nigerian Navy, the Cecilia had been used as a stationary storage tank for the products of illegal mini-refinery operators. Crudely-constructed miniature refinery operations are common in the Niger Delta, and are typically operated by gangs using stolen oil.
“They would bring their products here to be stored, [and] other people would come here to purchase the products,” said Commodore Adedokun Siyanbade, commander of NNS Pathfinder. He told ChannelsTV that this riverside operation had gone undetected for two years.
The Nigerian Navy has also revealed that the unfortunate culture of abandoning oil theft vessels along the waterways was one of the major reasons the international Maritime Organization, IMO, declared the country’s ports and waterways unsafe to do business in the past.