The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has indicated its readiness to issue licences in a bid to resuscitate bunkering business in the country.
The agency also disclosed that the renewal of licences and registration of vessels for the exercise would yield about N250million annually.
The development came as the federal government Tuesday began move to revive the operation of bunkering businesses in the nation’s coastal waters.
Director of the agency, George Osahon, who spoke at the sensitisation forum to mark the beginning of the exercise in Lagos said operators of bunkering in the country would be licenced by the DPR beginning from this January.
He said President Goodluck Jonathan approved the issuance of licence to bunkerers as part of his economic agenda, adding that resuscitation of bunkering activities would create employment activities for Nigerians as well as stimulate growth in other sectors of the economy, including inland ports and waterways.
The exercise will further boost Nigeria’s marine activities which may make the country a hub of bunkering operations in West Africa if bunkering is successfully resuscitated.
According to him, “Prior to 1979, there was not much recorded bunkering activities in the country. In 1979, it was introduced as a legitimate business activity with licences issued by the Department of Petroleum Resources. This was thwarted in 1984 apparently due to some abuse of the system.”
Osahon told the participants that his agency was committed to making the resuscitation of bunkering a huge success for the country.
He said his agency has prepared all guidelines to regulate the business of bunkering in accordance with the provision of the Petroleum Act.
The petroleum products recognised by the Act for bunkering activities include; Automative Gas Oil, Low Pour Fuel Oil and recently Liquefied Natural Gas, he said.
The assistant director in charge of safety at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Ubong Abasi, said for operators of bunkering to pass his agency’s test, they must let NIMASA know if they want to construct their vessels for the operation.
He also said operators must adequately convince his agency that they are the owners of the vessel by supplying documents authenticating the origin of the ship.
Navy Captain S.O. Ayeni of the Directorate of Marine Service of the Nigerian Navy said operators must present to his authority vessels location, quantity of bunker fuel, type of fuel, duration of bunkering operation and proof of source of the bunker products.