Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Maikanti Baru has advised ship owners under the aegis of Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) to invest towards the acquisition of bigger tanker vessels in order to participate in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry.
Baru, who spoke last week at the inauguration of the newly elected executive council members of SOAN, said the downstream sector is presently being controlled by foreigners while Nigerian shipowners participate only in the upstream sector due to the unavailability of bigger vessels.
Represented by the Director, Marine Logistics of NNPC, Ibrahim Lamin, Baru while charging the new executive council to take up the challenge noted that out of the 35 million litres of fuel Nigeria consumes daily, only 5million litres in produced in the country because the three major refineries in the country are still operating below capacity utilization.
”Indeed, when this group was called, I was surprised to see that most of the members operate in our upstream sector of the oil and gas industry. In fact, they happened to be the owners of basically all the vessels that we operate with our international oil companies. So, I started asking myself some questions, what is happening in the downstream where we have our coastal tankers, where we first supply the 35 million litres that Nigerians consume every day.
“What we see there, most of those vessels are operated or are owned by foreigners with Nigerians only acting as agents. So, I throw the ball to these people being inaugurated please do something about it. If you cannot bring in a vessel of 20,000-30, 000 metric tonnes deadweight, then you can bring in some other vessels of 15,000 metric tonnes deadweight so that we can send them to the hinterland ports of Warri, Calabar and perhaps, Port-Harcourt.
“I really wish that this team will take my advice and see how they can tackle the challenges that we see in the downstream sector,” he said.
Also speaking, Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hassan Bello said that the Council is working with the NNPC and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for the development of the national carrier.
Bello said the committee is also working to ensure that the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) is transparent.
“We are working with NIMASA and NNPC for the disbursement, development and standardization of the practice within the sector. It is not only disbursement as far as the National Fleet is concerned, but we are talking about services, about ship repairs, even about our cadets. We are also talking about the National Flag, our banks, the insurance and other financial institutions. They must support the indigenous ownership and operations of ships,” he said.
Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Service, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Ahmed Gambo said the agency is doing everything possible to disburse the CVFF.
“To many people it is like NIMASA is not doing anything to disburse the fund but inside we are doing everything possible to make it work. Although there have been challenges but i can assure you we will break the jinx,” he said.
President, of SOAN, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun said that he is optimistic that the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) will be disbursed and the jinx of 11 years since its establishment broken.
He added that a constituted committee on the issue was doing all within its authority to ensure transparency and effective disbursement to original indigenous shipowners to benefit from the fund.