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Nigeria loses $6bn  to foreign shipowners, says NNPC GMD

By Isaac Anumihe

The Group Managing Director of Nigerian  National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru,  has restated the need for the establishment of a national fleet, saying that Nigeria loses $6,165,800,104  billion annually  to foreign shipowners in the upstream sector through lifting crude.

Addressing the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) in Lagos,  the NNPC GMD, who was represented by the Group Executive Director, Downstream of NNPC, Mr. Henry Obi, told  the shipowners that the establishment of the national fleet should not be considered solely the responsibility of government but that such a project for crude oil afreightment would help the country save some of the foreign exchange paid to foreign shipowners.  According to him, a total of 771,689,625bbl (107,179,115mt) of crude oil was lifted from Nigeria in 2015.

“Assuming the total tonnage of the nation’s crude oil was freighted to UK using a 130,000 tonne vessel (which could take 950,000bl), it means that a total of about  $6,165,800,104 was paid to foreign shipowners. Some of these monies could have been saved if the nation had a national fleet for crude oil afreightment,” he lamented.

Besides, he said  having a national fleet is about ensuring global presence of a nation’s flagged vessels, adding that the  shipping industry in Greece, which is the largest in the world is mainly driven by the private sector.

“The shipowners association should strive to grow the business of its members such that Nigerian flagged vessels are visible globally. The association, therefore, should identify what government needs to make the shipping business of its members extremely successful,” he said.

The NNPC chief recalled that the country  once had a Nigerian  National Shipping Line (NNSL), wondering how that lofty dream went down the drain.

“The history of the establishment of a national fleet dates back to 1957 when NNSL was established. The company started operation with three vessels in 1959 and by 1979 had 24 oceangoing vessels in its fleet. Unfortunately, as we all know, the company was later sold by the government due to dwindling fortune. Perhaps, lessons have been learnt on what led to the collapse of the country’s first national shipping line,” he noted.

Earlier, the President of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Mr. Greg Ogbeifun, had appealed  that the government should review some of the policies and programmes, which put  operators at a disadvantage with their peers in other countries.

These, according to him, include review of import costs, maritime co-ordination board and maritime laws as well as stoppage of sea protection levy.

Ogbeifun, however, appealed to the Lagos State government to grant the association land to  construct its headquarters  building, which would be called  ‘Shipowners House’, in Lagos.

Responding, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, advised the shipowners to put their request in writing as that would facilitate the process of allocating the land to them.

Ambode, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Maritime, Mr. Benjamin Adeyemi Olabinjo, acknowledged that the maritime industry needs urgent reforms to align with the global best practices.

“The industry has great potential to be a major revenue  earner and driving force for economic growth and development. For these potential to be fully harnessed, there must be a convergence of ideas among stakeholders including the shipowners association on how best to move the industry forward in the best interest of the economy and private investors,” he said.

The governor used the occasion to highlight the benefits of the $2.6 billion Badagry Deep Sea project, which he said, will be the largest deep seaport in Africa when completed.

“We are encouraged by the interest already shown by international investors who are willing to partner with the state government to make the project a reality. As this year draws to an end, let us all resolve to forge a strong partnership and make necessary sacrifices that will bring about a quick turnaround of our economy,” he pleaded.

Other dignitaries present on the occasion include the Managing Director of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Eric Osagie; General Manager, Finance of The Sun, Mr. Obioma Ogukwe; Chairman, Board of Trustees of SOAN, Mr. Chibudom Nwuche; former Minister of Trade and Industries and Chairman of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI), Chief Nike Akande.

Also present were the Registrar, Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron; former Executive Secretaries of Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), Dr. Kingsley Usoh and Alhaji Adamu Biu.

This post was syndicated from The Sun News. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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