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NIMASA, ship owners set for double hull vessel regime

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As SOAN laments non-patronage by NNPC

By Godwin Oritse

AMIDST complaints of non- patronage by Nigeria, the country’s indigenous ship owners and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, seem set for a definite deadline of December 31, 2020 for phasing out single hull vessels in Nigeria. This is coming after some delays and shifts in dates by both NIMASA and the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, which initially gave the deadline of 2015.

But indigenous ship owners said the problem is not acquisition of the new model double hull vessels but the patronage of such vessels by Nigerian authorities especially the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, which would have made investments in the asset worth the change over.

Speaking at an online meeting with members of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria, SOAN, NIMASA’s Director General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said that Nigeria remains steadfast in its decision to stop the use of single-hull tankers by December 31 this year.

At the meeting, Jamoh warned operators still using single hull vessels to prepare towards the December deadline with a view to complying with the law. He said:  “We are committed to the complete phase-out of single-hull tankers by December 31. Operators still using this type of tankers should make adequate preparation to comply because there will be no going back on this decision.

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“We have discussed the timeline for discontinuing the use of single-hull tankers and were given five years to comply with the ban, which is, to all intents and purposes, a generous allowance. The journey to success for the current management of NIMASA depends on the shipowners. We shall continue to pursue our functions of promoting and regulating shipping in collaboration with shipowners and all relevant stakeholders.”

Recall that NIMASA had in 2015 revised the timetable for the phase-out of single-hull tankers operating in Nigeria. This followed the decision of the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, to extend its deadline for the ban of single-hull tankers for certain categories of tankers not engaged in international trade. NIMASA utilised the IMO extension window to shift the final phase-out date for single-hull oil tankers to December 31, 2020.

IMO’s Revised Regulation of Annex 1 to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, MARPOL, required flag administrations to phase out Category 2 and 3 single-hull tankers by 2015. But it extended the deadline for some tankers not engaged in international trade owing to the difficulty in achieving wholesale fleet replacement.

Speaking to Vanguard Maritime Report, the President of SOAN, Dr. Oyioung Mcgeorge, said that the group will wait for NIMASA to publish the Marine Notice with regards to the development.  Mcgeorge also said that there has been enough notice by the IMO to phase out the single hull vessels adding that anybody that does not comply or adapt to the changes in the shipping industry will be left behind.

He disclosed that vessels that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, uses are double hull vessels even when most of them do not belong to members of SOAN.

The SOAN boss also lamented that there were not enough indigenous ships in Nigeria adding there was a need to have more vessels to service the local shipping industry. He said: “The issue we are facing is that we do not have enough ships to start with. We need more ships and any ship that you buy now must be double and the double hull vessels really have impact in the local shipping industry because there are not many of them. Most charterers of vessels today demand double hull and most double hull vessels are less than 20 years.

“Historically, the double hull vessel issue started in year 2000, that is exactly twenty years ago and Nigeria is just implementing it. It is not a NIMASA issue, it is an IMO requirement and NIMASA has given long enough notice to operators and ship owners.”

Mcgeorge also said that members of the group are still not being given contract to petrol products imported by NNPC adding that SOAN is currently in discussion with the corporation to ensure that indigenous ship owners are given priority to freight products within the country. “We have dialogued with them, right now we are in talks with NIDAS Marine Limited Nigeria, a subsidiary of the NNPC,” he said.

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