The Sonangol oil firm in Angola has said that an oil tanker which was hijacked for a week off the coast of the country in January has been returned to Angola but the hijackers had made away with diesel worth $8 million from the vessel.
Group Sonangol is a state owned oil firm that oversees petroleum and natural gas production in Angola and trading of the commodity by Angola and its foreign trading partners.
Angolan authorities say the Liberian-flagged MT Kerala was under a time charter contract for the Sonangol oil firm and was stocked with oil for delivery to its trading partners.
But the vessel was reportedly to have been hijacked by pirates off the coast of the capital Luanda in January and was never heard off until February.
Local reporters say the reported hijack of the vessel sparked a row between the Angolan government and the vessel crew members. The government initially suspected the crew of deliberately disabling the vessel’s communications equipment to fake a pirate attack.
But this suspicion was later dismissed when the management of the vessel issued a statement confirming the hijack and adding that one crew member had been badly wounded by the hijackers.
Board member of Sonangol oil firm, Anabela Fonseca stated in a news conference that the vessel was intercepted by the Nigerian navy on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea.
“The MT Kerala was found in Nigerian waters, but as the coast there did not offer security it was taken to Ghanaian waters and then recovered with help from both countries’ authorities and brought to Luanda’’.
‘’It is now with Angola government authorities, we managed to recover around 78 percent of the cargo, but they managed to transfer about 12,000 tonnes of diesel, so that is what we lost,’’ she said.
Security experts say this incident raises concerns that piracy is spreading south from the Gulf of Guinea where most pirates operates.
Angola is Africa’s second-biggest oil producer after Nigeria but almost all of its production is offshore and security needs to be stepped up to prevent pirates’ attacks.
Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News
Writer’s Email Address: Adamsisska@googlemail.com
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