Starzs Investment Company Limited (SICL) has recorded another milestone in its quest to boost indigenous shipping with the commissioning of its newbuild tug boat named MV Osanyamo.
The Damen Azimuth Stern Drive Tug 5114 model was commissioned by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, at a colourful ceremony held at the Starzs shipyard in Onne, Rivers State on Friday.
The ASD 5114 model, which is presently the first and largest in the Damen’s ASD tug range to date, is a state-of-the-art tug and highly manoeuvrable vessel fully equipped for offshore operations. The vessel is 52.3 metres long.
It is primarily built to assist in tanker lifting operations alongside FPSOs in the Gulf of Guinea under a contract with Total Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited.
Speaking at the commissioning of the vessel, the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, was full of praises for Starzs.
He said Starzs, being an indigenous company, had succeeded in the nation’s maritime industry, which is largely dominated by foreign players, through the mobilization of domestic resources and utilization of favourable policies of the government.
He expressed optimism that the vessel would help provide the opportunity, which the country lost after the demise of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL), to build indigenous capacity and help the industry play its role in the continent.
He said, “I feel so proud to be associated with the success of Starzs. Over time, the maritime industry in spite of the support which it has received, such as the Cabotage law and the local content law has continued to be dominated by foreign companies and our country has continued to lose resources not only in terms of volume of trade but also in balance of trade and employment opportunities.
“Apart from the NNSL, which offered Nigerians the opportunity in the industry, just like most national asset, that endeavour failed and as a country, we lost that opportunity to build the human capacity and the resources required to dominate or play our role in the country.
“Therefore, I am so glad that Starzs with the support of institutions like NPA and local content board are now beginning to lift us as a country to take us to where we should be in the maritime industry in the continent.”
The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman applauded the company for supporting the Federal Government’s local content drive with the engagement of Nigerian crew on board its vessels. This, she said, would help build the nation’s capacity and put Nigeria on the frontline of global maritime business.
She assured that the present government would continue to provide the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive and invest more in the country.
“It is gratifying to see the commitment of Starzs Investment Limited to the Nigerian content requirement of the Federal Government to the extent that it can boast of a 100 percent Nigerian crew on its entire fleet of vessels.
“The ongoing cadetship training scheme of the company is also building the capacity of our country to take charge of its maritime sector, which is critical to any economy in the world.
“In addition, MV Osanyamo has also added to in-country capacity for oil exploration and production in Nigeria,” she said.
In his contribution, Managing Director, Nigerian Content Development Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Engr. Simbi Wabote, disclosed that vessel ownership in Nigeria, which was less than 10 percent prior to the enactment of the Nigeria content act in 2010, has recorded 38 percent indigenous ownership in the oil and gas sector.
He noted that the board’s commitment to local content drive moved it to provide the needed assistance to Starsz by being a partial guarantor for the funding. This, he said helped reduce the applicable interest rate on the facility provided by the financing institution.
Representative of the Managing Director of Total Exploration and Production Limited, Kenneth Imujoro, expressed confidence that the vessel will bring a new level of safety and operational performance to Total offshore operations even as he expressed the commitment of the company to continue to collaborate with captains of industry to grow indigenous capacity.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of Starzs, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun recalled how the contract for the vessel was won by his company in 2011 after a competitive bidding process, which lasted for two years.
He said despite the challenges faced in assessing fund under the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), the support provided by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and its partner Total Exploration and Production in financing the construction of the vessel made it a reality.
“In Starzs, we have a policy which is focused on development and indigenization of indigenous shipment capacity in all our operations. We therefore decided that our in house seafarers will sail the vessel all the way from China to Nigeria and the vessel arrived our shores on the 1st of June 2018 and more importantly flying the Nigerian flag all the way from China.
“The financing facility was made possible by the Nigerian Content Board who gave partial guarantee for the funding and Total Exploration who supported the financing structure by contributing an advance payment of five percent of the contract value,” he said.
Ogbeifun noted that if appropriate support and encouragement is given to indigenous companies, it would help increase indigenous fleet and gradually eliminate the proliferation of foreign vessels from the nation’s maritime domain.
He added that apart from the company’s focus in developing indigenous human capacity, it is also committed to its corporate social responsibility which is evidence in its scholarship initiative and cadetship training scheme where it currently have 11 cadets on its vessels and seven others who had since graduated and serving as officers on the vessels.
The event was witnessed by several industry stakeholders including the General Manager of INTELS Nigeria Limited, Mr. Silvano Bellinato; the Executive Secretary/CEO of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Mr. Hassan Bello; his predecessor, Captain Adamu Biu; and the Chairman, Shipowners Forum, Mrs. Margret Onyema-Orakwusi, among others.