The resolve by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to clamp down on the activities of fuel smugglers seems to be yielding positive results following the interception of three oil vessels in Takoradi in the Western Region.
The latest seizure came barely 24 hours after two unregistered oil vessels had been impounded for engaging in illegal oil trade in Ghanaian territorial waters.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NPA, Mr Alhassan Tampuli, named the vesels as MT River Oak (Marshall Islands Flag) 8, MT Asian Champion and the MT Atlantic Dreamer.
He said MT River Oak was in the process of supplying fuel oil (bunkering) to the two other ships: the MT Asian Champion and the MT Atlantic Dreamer.
He said the operation was being carried out about 65 nautical miles offshore in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) on April 14, 2018, when officials of the Ghana Navy apprehended them.
Mr Tampuli said the crew told investigators that the supply vessel (the MT River Oak) had sourced the product from offshore Lome and had been instructed by its owners to supply the two other vessels on the high seas of Ghana.
The crew on board the supply ship were Russians, Philippinos and Latvians.
The impounded vessel had been in Ghana since April 14, 2018 and was carrying 65MT of MGO and 2,209 MT of bunker fuel oil.
Mr Tampuli said the crew were unable to provide the necessary registration documents covering the impounded vessel.
He added that it was too early to tell whether or not the vessel had engaged in illegal activities but stated that “it is still being kept under investigations, pending the Ghana Maritime Authority’s confirmation of its registration documents and other requirements for the ship operating in the EEZ”.
The Ghana Navy, in collaboration with the NPA and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), impounded two unregistered vessels on April 14, 2018.
The vessels, believed to be from Nigeria, had 11 crew members on board and were carrying 320 tonnes of fuel.
Mr Tampuli said proper sanctions would be meted out to the culprits if found guilty.
He also gave an assurance that the NPA would not relent in its efforts to curb the activities of fuel smugglers, both on land and sea.