Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has blamed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for its continuous engagement of foreign ships for lifting petroleum products on board the nation’s waters.
Recall that over the years NNPC had come under serious criticisms for patronizing foreign ships for coastal shipping services, violating the local content and Cabotage laws in the country.
The objective of the Cabotage regime is primarily to reserve the commercial transportation of goods and services within Nigerian coastal and inland waters to vessels flying the Nigerian flag, owned and crewed by Nigerian citizens and built in Nigeria.
However, in a strange twist recently, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari while speaking on Channels Television, claimed that the corporation has only engaged shipping companies approved by NIMASA.
Kyari was responding to an onset query by the President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung who criticised the continued jettisoning of Nigerian ships for NNPC coastal contracts.
In his defence, the NNPC boss stated that NIMASA has given waivers to the foreign companies engaged by NIDAS shipping, the shipping logistics arm of NNPC.
According to the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act 2003 Revised 2007, a foreign vessel and its company must obtain a Ministerial Cabotage license for registration to operate in coastal services in Nigeria.
A recent contract to foreign vessel owners for coastal shipping of petroleum products in the downstream petroleum sector saw NNPC award the coastal and bunkering vessels service to Greek shipping company, UNIBROS Shipping with eleven foreign-flagged coastal tanker vessels.