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Owners of MT. Praisel, a Nigerian Flag Motor Tanker Vessel, with Call Sign 5NGX2, IMO: 9206891 currently under charter by Stratos Trading Limited, have described as fake news a report by Channels Television, claiming that Security Agents have arrested its vessel allegedly laden with stolen crude oil.

Channels Television had in its report of Thursday, August 3rd, 2023 claimed that the above-named Vessel was arrested by Security Agents (Tantita Security Service Limited) on allegation of being laden with stolen crude oil.

Reacting to the fake news, Owners of the vessel in a statement signed by its Company Secretary, Paul Ishabor Esq, insisted that as a responsible and law-abiding organization with a long history and track record of compliance with laws and regulations that govern the Maritime and Oil & Gas Industry, they seriously frown at such unfounded and baseless allegation.

They noted that the fake news is not just embarrassing to the organization, but also impeaches on the hard-earned reputation built over the years.

“It is therefore against this background that we seek to use this medium to clear the air and set the records straight by stating the following:

– That Sub-Sea 9 Ocean Services Limited a registered company under the Laws of Federal Republic of Nigeria are owners of Mt. Praisel duly registered with the Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency, NIMASA. The company has been a long-time player in the Maritime and Oil & Gas Industry.

– That Mt. Praisel is currently under hire to Stratos Trading Limited (hereinafter referred to as “the Charterer”) under a Charter Party Agreement dated July 25th 2023.

– That under the said Charter Party Agreement, Mt. Praisel’s obligation is to load cargo of several voyages of High Pour Fuel Oil, HPFO, belonging to Stratos Trading Limited and covered by Petroleum Product Offtake Permits and Vessel Release of Nomination issued by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA, from Greenmac Energy Limited at Taurus Jetty, Koko for discharge at Bonny Inner Anchorage and San Barth Jetty, Port Harcourt as Bunker.

– That in fulfilment of our obligations under the Charter Party Agreement and working with the Charterer, on the 31st of July, 2023, after securing the Nigerian Navy Clearance to load 1,114,721 liters of HPFO, Mt. Praisel and Crew on Board loaded approved quantity of Fuel Oil from Greenmac Storage Facility using Taurus Jetty at Koko, Delta State and after all documentations have been done including Cargo Ullage Report, Mt. Praisel casted-off from Taurus Jetty on the 2nd of August, 2023 for discharge as bunker to Vessels at Bonny Inner Anchorage. In line with standard operating procedures and to ensure strict compliance with the NMDPRA approval, Nigerian Navy personnel were deployed onboard to monitor the discharge of the product by Mt. Praisel in Bonny.

– That on the 2nd of August, 2023 while making the voyage, Tantita Security Service Limited, TSSL, claiming to be acting on intelligence report intercepted the Vessel on allegation that the Vessel was laden with Stolen Crude Oil. After approaching the Navy, personnel of TSSL were allowed to board the Vessel to verify the allegation of stolen crude oil. The Captain and Crew on board took their time to tender all documentations and approvals from the relevant Agencies showing that the vessel was loaded with HPFO and not Crude Oil as alleged. All their efforts to show proof fell on deaf ears as TSSL insisted the cargo on board was Crude Oil judging by the colour. Accordingly, the Navy directed the Vessel to Forward Operating Base Escravos Anchorage for further investigation. Upon arrival at Escravos Anchorage on Thursday, 3rd August, 2023, TSSL without waiting for other relevant Agencies required for proper investigation such as NMDPRA to arrive proceeded to take samples of the product on board Mt. Praisel claiming to be taking same for laboratory analysis and verification of the claim. Up till this moment no word has been heard from TSSL on the outcome of their Laboratory Test.

– While awaiting the outcome of the Laboratory Test/Analysis which was still ongoing, to our greatest shock and surprise, we saw media reports on Channels Television and other Electronic, Online and Print Media channels that Mt. Praisel has been arrested by TSSL laden with stolen Crude Oil. This is to say the least unprofessional and disappointing.

– For the avoidance of doubts, we wish to through this medium put forward the following documents in support of our actions and to disprove the hasty and malicious claim by TSSL that Mt. Praisel was laden with stolen Crude Oil:

+ Petroleum Product Offtake Permits issued by the NMDPRA in favour of Stratos Trading Limited.

+ Vessel Release of Nomination issued by NMDPRA on account of Stratos Trading Limited

+ The Nigerian Navy approval to load HPFO

+ Confirmation of Certificate of Product Trans-shipment from Greenmac Depot to Mt. Praisel

+ Bill of Lading

+ Ullage & Quantity Report of Vessel

+ Quality & Quantity (Q&Q) Certificate

It will also amaze you to NOTE that while the erroneous, baseless and unfounded media reports by TSSL of Mt. Praisel’s arrest with stolen Crude Oil are still going viral on all news channels in the country and beyond, the NMDPRA has just only today morning, 4th of August, 2023 come on board the Vessel to collect samples for Laboratory Test/Analysis to ascertaining whether the cargo on board Mt. Praisel is HPFO as approved by them or Crude Oil as claimed by TSSL.

See attached pictures of NMDPRA Officials taking samples.

While we await the Laboratory Test Result from DPR, we wish to state and categorically too that our organization frowns seriously at the unprofessional conduct of TSSL, which has painted us in bad light and is capable of lowering and tarnishing the hard-earned reputation we have built over time.

In the meantime, we wish to commend and appreciate the level of professionalism and uprightness demonstrated so far, by the Nigerian Navy, the office of the NSA and NMDPRA in ensuring that due diligence and due process is being adhered to in the investigation process. This has only gone a long way to reassure us of the commitment and determination of the Nigerian Navy and all other relevant Government Agencies in the Marine and Oil & Gas Sector in ensuring that genuine business concerns are not unjustly and unlawfully harassed and intimidated with their assets and businesses destroyed.

Finally, we also wish to state that after due consultation within our management and beyond, we may be considering seeking legal redress for the losses and damages to the image of our company.”

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