Over $100 billion (N15.8 trillion) may have been lost in five decades through the exclusive lifting of the country’s crude oil by foreign owned tankers, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Ernest Nwapa, has said.
Nwapa made this disclosure last Friday at the launch of two new 45,000 tonnes tanker vessels, MT Abiola and MT Igbinosa by an indigenous firm, Ocean Marine Tankers (OMT).
According to him, the country also lost opportunities to build a virile national carrier fleet on the back of the hundreds of millions of barrels exported every year and equally missed opportunities to train and utilise youths especially from maritime communities of the Niger Delta in formal shipping activities.
He noted that the trend began to change with the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan and emboldening of relevant officials and agencies to insist that indigenously owned tankers should carry Nigerian crude.
Making reference to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke’s directive in 2012 that the crude lifting guidelines issued by the Board must count in the selection of companies to lift Nigerian crude, Nwapa said that one of the key requirements included ownership of tankers or Nigerian equity in tankers that will carry the crude.
“In 2012, the guidelines were not fully implemented. The excuse was that there was no Nigerian owned tanker but the message was sent around the world that the Jonathan government was insisting that a portion of Nigerian crude must be carried by Nigerian tankers,” NCDMB boss said.
He said that since then, over four other credible groups had demonstrated to the board various models they plan to adopt to ensure compliance with crude lifting guidelines issued in 2012.
Sequel to the guidelines, the Minister of Petroleum Resources will soon come out with regulations to enforce relevant provisions of the Nigerian Content Act, which stipulate that Nigerian – owned tankers must be utilised significantly in the transportation of crude oil.
The NCDMB Executive Secretary commended Ocean Marine Tankers Limited for showing the world that Nigerians can own crude carriers, describing the company’s efforts as a clear demonstration of the confidence investors have in the current administration and a strong belief that government will protect any investment made in line with our laws, policies and aspirations.
He promised that the NCDMB will ensure that any company that invests in crude tankers which meet the technical requirements will be utilised for transporting Nigerian crude.
Nwapa also reported that the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act had resulted in the domination of the industry landscape by Nigerian companies, with tremendous impact on the national economy, such that other sectors are replicating the models established in the oil and gas sector.
He said that there are measurable impacts in engineering to fabrication, oil field services, well technology and drilling rigs, marine vessel services, equipment assembly and component manufacture and logistics.
Noting that upgrade of facilities have injected billions of naira into the economy, he listed other areas of increased Nigerian participation include boat building and ship repair, coastal trade under the Cabotage regime, insurance, banking and legal services and crude oil and product sales.
The two vessels, would be used to supply crude oil to Warri and Kaduna refineries.