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Worry NIMASA to disburse CVFF for us to buy bigger vessels, SOAN tells NNPC GMD

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Whereas the Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru has advised members of Shipowners’ Association of Nigeria (SOAN) to acquire bigger tanker vessels in order to participate in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry, leading shippers have advised the Cooperation to remind the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to do the needful by disbursing Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) so that SOAN members can get the needed seize of vessels.

Business Hilights recalls that shippers like Capt. Emmanuel Ihenancho and BC Borha and so many others have been on the neck of NIMASA for the same matter, but the agency has remained adamant, claiming that it is yet to clear some militating issues in giving out the fund for what it was statutorily meant for.

Baru had given the advice at the inauguration of the newly elected executive council members of SOAN, saying the downstream sector is presently being controlled by foreigners while Nigerian shipowners participate only in the upstream sector due to the unavailability of bigger vessels.

Director, Marine Logistics at NNPC, Ibrahim Lamin, who stood in for Baru charged the new executive council to take up the challenge decrying that out of the 35 million litres of fuel Nigeria consumes daily, only 5million litres in produced in the country because the three major refineries in the country are still operating below capacity utilization.

Baru said “Indeed, when this group was called, I was surprised to see that most of the members operate in our upstream sector of the oil and gas industry. In fact, they happened to be the owners of basically all the vessels that we operate with our international oil companies. So, I started asking myself some questions, what is happening in the downstream where we have our coastal tankers, where we first supply the 35 million litres that Nigerians consume every day.

“What we see there, most of those vessels are operated or are owned by foreigners with Nigerians only acting as agents. So, I throw the ball to these people being inaugurated please do something about it. If you cannot bring in a vessel of 20,000-30, 000 metric tonnes deadweight, then you can bring in some other vessels of 15,000 metric tonnes deadweight so that we can send them to the hinterland ports of Warri, Calabar and perhaps, Port-Harcourt.

“I really wish that this team will take my advice and see how they can tackle the challenges that we see in the downstream sector,” he said.

Seeing how aggrieved SOAN members are on the CVFF issue, the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Service at NIMASA, Ahmed Gambo said the agency is doing everything possible to disburse the CVFF.

According to him, “To many people it is like NIMASA is not doing anything to disburse the fund but inside we are doing everything possible to make it work. Although there have been challenges but i can assure you we will break the jinx”.

Responding, the new President of SOAN, Engineer Greg Ogbeifun said that he is optimistic that the CVFF will be disbursed soon by NIMASA so as to break the jinx of 11 years since its establishment.

Ogbeifun expressed optimism that the constituted committee on the issue will ensure transparency and effective disbursement of CVFF to original indigenous shipowners to benefit from the fund.

The fund when disbursed will empower shippers to go for new vessels which will not only grow local content in freighting crude but Nigerian and West African coastal shipping.