The charges of illegal bunkering brought by Nigeria against Dubai-based Monjasa DMCC are unfounded, as the arrested MT Anuket Emerald was in international waters at the time the Nigerian navy boarded and inspected the vessel, Monjasa Group CEO Anders Østergaard said in a statement.
The navy boarded the vessel to check whether it was carrying Nigerian crude. The tests confirmed that the cargo consisted of fuel and diesel oil, and that it was not Nigerian oil, Østergaard said.
”Unfortunately, the local authorities are now trying to charge us with operating in Nigerian territory without permission, even though the ship was beyond the 12 nautical mile radius, thus located in international waters (EEZ),” Østergaard said.
”But this case, along with the recent one in Angola, unfortunately illustrates clearly that several sovereign states are trying to claim rights to the EEZ zone. Right now this is just a matter of getting our ship and crew out sailing safely again. And of course I should mention that both ship owner and charter, as well as our respective P&I clubs, are on the same side in this event.”
As World Maritime News reported, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned Monjasa DMCC, Glencore Energy UK Limited, the vessel MT Anuket Emerald, and 14 foreign nationals alleged to be involved in illegal oil bunkering on a 4-count charge bordering on conspiracy and illegal dealing in petroleum products.
The case was adjourned to June 17, 18 and 19, 2015 for commencement of trial.
Monjasa DMCC is part of Monjasa Group, a Danish bunker and tanker company, and as of yesterday, an oil trading company.
World Maritime News Staff, Image: Monjasa