-By Petralon 54
We have followed with keen interest reports of the exchange between our erstwhile vendor, First Priority Resources International Limited (First Priority) the operators of Barge FP Amangwu and security operatives (men of Operation Delta Safe and Tantita Security Services), and wish to highlight some facts of our transaction with the vendor in question.
By this account, our objective is to give context to the situation and aid public understanding and interpretation of the development. More importantly, our provision of the facts and history of the transaction will support the need for a meticulous and thorough investigation into the exchange, which has become a major news item in the last couple of days.
As a company licensed to carry out exploration, production and disposal of hydrocarbons, Petralon 54 Limited engaged the First Priority-owned Barge FP Amangwu, to barge legally produced and government authorised crude oil from its operated Dawes Island Marginal Field to the Ajapa FSO, operated by Britannia-U Nigeria Limited, which is the offtake terminal. Not being sea going, the Barge was berthed at NPA Jetty, Warri pending offtake of the crude oil onboard by a sea going vessel.
Upon completion of the contract on March 28, 2023, all the tanks of the Barge, FP Amangwu, were fully evacuated with all crude conveyed pumped out, except the cumulative residual volume of ca. 100 barrels at the bottom of the tanks that pumps could not pick up – these are called dead volumes or sludge. This fact can be attested to by the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), the relevant oil and gas operations regulator that supervised and signed-off on the evacuation operation and ensured the Barge was emptied.
Accordingly, the Barge was released by Petralon 54 Limited to its owners First Priority on March 30, 2023 at the NPA Jetty in Warri, Delta State, which signaled the end of the contract between Petralon 54 Limited and First Priority, the operators of Barge FP Amangwu. The Barge was subsequently moved to Ejovi Jetty, located in Warri, Delta State, by its owners on April 17, 2023.
Early in May 2023, the owners of the Barge, who by contract were to clean the tanks of their vessel post activity reached out to Petralon 54 Limited, claiming that at the point of their cleaning the barge, they discovered that crude was left on board the Barge and requesting that Petralon 54 Limited should evacuate same. We responded to this claim advising that it was incorrect because we had evacuated our crude completely from the Barge.
Owing to the magnitude of the claim, we immediately followed up on our response by sending a representative to verify the claim. Consequently, samples of the fluid in the barge tanks were taken and tested at an NMDPRA-certified laboratory. The results confirmed that what the owners of the Barge – FP Amangwu, considered as crude, was actually oily wastewater, a combination of the residual amount of the cumulative crude dead volume of ca. 100 barrels which the staff of the barge owners had now accumulated into two tanks as they cleaned out the other tanks, and the sea water the staff of the owners of the Barge said they pumped into the various Barge tanks in washing the Barge and had also accumulated into these same two tanks.
First Priority thereafter wrote to us, still requesting that we undertake the cleaning of the Barge ourselves on the basis of the fact that Warri was outside their jurisdiction, and that they had no experience in cleaning. Taking over tank cleaning was contractually impossible for Petralon 54 Limited to do as the cleaning was contracted to First Priority, and is outside our remit, we however reached out to the NMDPRA on behalf of First Priority, for the recommendation of a certified waste management company. Guided by NMDPRA, two NMDPRA responded certified waste management companies were identified, of which Diamond Energytech Limited was considered more responsive and was subsequently engaged to undertake the cleaning operation.
The scope of engagement of the waste disposal company (Diamond Energytech Limited) was tank cleaning, evacuation and transportation of oily water, treatment, and disposal of oily water from the Barge. The operation would be overseen by First Priority alone as the cleaning transaction was directly between they and Diamond Energytech.
From this point, we stopped interfacing with both First Priority and Diamond Energytech as the contract with First Priority had terminated, and the cleaning transaction was between both parties alone (First Priority and Diamond Energytech).
It is pertinent to note that since the news of incidents detailed above broke, till this writing, none of the government security agencies involved in the exchange with these vendors (First Priority and Diamond Energytech Limited) has reached out to our company for any information, clarification, or corroboration.
We read in the news that during the course of transportation, the disposal agent’s vacuum truck was intercepted by men of the Operation Delta Safe and the private security firm, Tantita Security Services.
We also read on the news that a section of the waste treatment facility belonging to Mawe Services Limited was set ablaze by the security forces, in addition to the burning of the FP Amangwu Barge
Both actions were taken within a day of the reported arrest of the truck.
It was also reported that the driver of the disposal agent’s vacuum truck and his mate on board were arrested and taken into custody, where they are currently being held at 3 Battalion Nigerian Army Barracks, Effurun.
On the basis of the foregoing facts, we firmly believe that this development should be properly investigated by the authorities. This should include all the parties: Nigerian security forces and Tantita Security Services, the relevant regulatory authorities, and other related parties.
Beyond the fact that Petralon 54 Limited conducts its business legitimately at all times in addition to being a socially responsible organisation with commitment to fair business practices, it is our hope that government will look into the operations of surveillance operatives on our waterways and cause them to become more accountable.
We would expect that the responsible and appropriate line of action to be taken was to conduct a proper investigation and not hastily set a vessel ablaze, in less than one day without contacting the relevant government regulatory agency (i.e NMDPRA) or a single concerned party or stakeholder in the transaction.
Apart from the needless destruction of people’s livelihood (in a country already dealing with high unemployment and eroding standard of living), the obvious environmental impact of such needless fires, is particularly disheartening, especially at a time when all socially responsible hydrocarbon producers and Nations as a whole, are focused on reducing carbon emissions.
Therefore, we call for a wide-ranging investigation into this matter.