Normand Cutter (built 2001), a subsea construction and umbilical lay DP vessel owned by Solstad Offshore, was stopped and boarded by gunmen posing as the Nigerian Navy on Friday, off the coast of Nigeria.
Norwegian news site Dagbladet, who later spoke with the Norwegian captain on board, said that the vessel which stopped the Solstad vessel was likely a former Norwegian navy vessel, one of six controversially sold to former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo.
Ekpemupolo is a former commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, but was granted amnesty by the Nigerian Government in 2009. He now runs Global West Vessel Specialist Agency handling maritime security for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The gunmen checked the vessel paperwork, although quickly turned to negotiatons over money Dagbladet was told by a spokesperson from Solstad. While not revealing whether money was paid, the vessel has been released and is now operational.
Normand Cutter has been chartered to Saipem working off West Africa since 2010.