The Nigerian economy lost over $100bn in its 50 years of commercial oil production by allowing its crude to be carried exclusively by foreign owned tankers, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Mr. Ernest Nwapa has said.
Speaking at the launch of two brand new 45,000 metric tonnes tanker vessels, MT Abiola, and MT Igbinosa, by an indigenous firm, Ocean Marine Tankers (OMT), Nwapa said 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.
He added that the country equally missed opportunities to train and utilise youths, especially from maritime communities of the Niger Delta in formal shipping activities.
He expressed happiness that the trend began to change with the implementation of the Nigerian Content Act signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan, and empowering relevant officials and agencies to insist that indigenous owned tankers should carry Nigerian crude.
Nwapa recalled that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, had directed in 2012 that the Crude Lifting Guidelines issued by the Board must count in the selection of companies to lift Nigerian crude, adding 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.”
He said that since then, about four other credible groups had demonstrated to the Board various models they plan to adopt to ensure compliance with the Crude Lifting Guidelines.
He added that sequel to the guidelines, the Minister will soon come out with regulations to enforce relevant provisions of the Nigerian Content Act, which stipulates that Nigerian owned tankers must be utilised significantly in the transportation of crude oil.
The Executive Secretary commended Ocean Marine for proving that Nigerians can own crude carriers, and described the company’s efforts as a clear demonstration of the confidence investors have in the current administration, which he said, is a strong belief that government will protect any investment made in line with Nigerian laws, policies and aspirations.
He promised that the Board will ensure that any company that invests in crude tankers which meet the technical requirements will be utilised for transporting Nigerian crude.
Nwapa also said 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 there are measurable impacts in engineering, fabrication, oil field services, well technology and drilling rigs, marine vessel services, equipment assembly and component manufacture and logistics.
Noting that the upgrade of facilities have injected billions of naira into the economy, he listed other areas of increased Nigerian participation to 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.