NNPC’s claim on foreign carriers’ petroleum products lifting sparks controversy …As Nigerian ship owners allege deliberate exclusion
Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru
BY FRANCIS EZEM
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation NNPC has said that the lack of technical capacity and competence by the indigenous shipping companies was solely responsible for the use of foreign liners for the carriage of the nation’s crude oil export and import of refined petroleum products, contrary to widely held belief.
General Manager of the corporation in charge of commercial shipping, Ahmed Lamin, who made this disclosure while speaking at the recently concluded World Maritime Day celebration organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, in Lagos, disclosed that Nigeria imports a minimum of 1, 260 metric tonnes of Premium Motor Spirit PMS, also called petrol monthly, which comes in 86 consignments.
He however regretted that of these figures, none is lifted by indigenously owned shipping companies because they lack the capacity to do, which has left the corporation to rely on the use of foreign owned-tankers.
But in a swift reaction, President of Nigerian Ship Owners’ Association NISA, Aminu Umar, took a swipe at the NNPC for what it described as deliberate policy of excluding indigenous shipping companies, insisting that many of them have the capacity both in terms of the standards of the vessels as well as their management.
The NNPC General Manager also disclosed that the corporation sends 445, 000 barrels of crude oil per day to refineries in the country for local consumption, which is augmented by the imported one, which he said has remained Nigeria’s major albatross in terms of petroleum pricing.
According to him, this is primarily because neighbouring countries find the subsidised price of petroleum products meant for the local market cheaper, as many of them have since shut their refining facilities since it is far cheaper to buy from Nigeria than refine their own.
It was further gathered that the corporation has adopted the option of direct sales and direct purchases by the companies.
He further alleged that in terms of moving products within the coastal region, Nigeria has over 24 coastal vessels belonging to the indigenous shipping firms, alleging that none of them has the capacity to lift the products, which also accounts for their foreign domination of the coastal trade.
The NNPC GM further said that in addition to meeting between the indigenous stakeholders and management of the corporation led by its Group Managing Director, Dr. Maicanti Baru early in the year on the ways to address the low capacity issues, the corporation also advertised for some services, which conditions could not be met by the indigenous operators.
Aminu, who doubles as Chief Executive Officer of Sea Transport Services limited, one of the thriving indigenous shipping firms, while faulting the claims by the national oil giant, insisted that in any contract, especially within the coastal waters, Nigerians should be given the right of first refusal to ascertain whether they have the capability or not.
Many stakeholders have been speaking on the foreign domination of the oil and gas market, which accounts for the fact that though the industry accounts for over 96 per cent of the nation’s revenue earnings, it contributes less than 10 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product GDP.
These stakeholders have argued that Nigeria remains the only member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC, which does not lift her crude.