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Ship owners petition NNPC’s over engagement of foreign ships

Godfrey Bivbere
Ship owners under the aegis of Indigenous Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) have petitioned the management of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on the proposed movement of 460,000 barrels of crude oil from the existing off-shore storage facilities to the nation’s refineries  in  Port Harcourt and Warri, Delta State.

In the petition dated January 28, 2010 and signed by the Chairman of ISAN, Chief Isaac Jolapamo which was addressed to the Group Managing Director of NNPC, the group decried their neglect despite the acquisition of capacity to do the work.

Under provisions of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003, Nigerian shipowners are mandated to undertake cabotage trade. They  expressed dismay that the management of NNPC has over the years patronised only foreign ship owners for the coastal afreightment of the petroleum products.

ISAN pointed out that the action of NNPC does not only impact negatively on the nation’s economy but also help in impoverishing Nigerian shipowners since their foreign counterparts take their profits to their home countries, thereby encouraging capital flight.

Jolapamo said his members would soon pitch their tent against the management of NNPC, if the trend was not reversed without further delay. He argued that the movement of crude oil from offshore to the refineries falls under the provisions of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act 2003.

“We understand that you have concluded arrangement via a selection process and without the involvement of ISAN members for the coastal movement of crude oil to Warri Refinery and Petrochemical Company (WRPC). The transportation of crude oil falls under the Cabotage Act as well as the Nigerian local content which you are supposed to be championing.

“We are not going to settle for anything less and therefore request you to look inwards to ISAN members, some of whom have the ability considering their more than three decades of operating in this familiar terrain. Better still, you may wish to engage the mega shipping company owned by the entire ISAN members to provide these shipping services,” ISAN said in their letter which was also copied to other relevant authorities. It disclosed that the Federal Government has allocated 460,000 barrels per day to NNPC for domestic consumption.

“As a palliative measures in the face of the frequent breakdown of local refineries, you transport this crude for offshore refining and bring the refined product back for domestic use. The shipping service for both legs (crude and refined) have hitherto been left in the hands of foreign operators.

“The local operators under ISAN auspices have formed a mega shipping company capable of handling the shipping side of the project, thereby avoiding capital flight as the transportation cost can begin to reside in Nigeria.

A local shipping company owned by majority of the operators will not only do the country proud but will create job opportunities for our teaming youth”, the association added.

ISAN had since the middle of last year locked in horns with foreign ship owners over the latter encroachment into jobs specifically meant members of the association under the provisions of the Cabotage Act.

Apart from arresting their vessels, ISAN had on several occasions gone to court to prosecute erring foreign shipping companies.


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