Nigeria Bans Oil Tankers from Its Territorial Waters

Joseph Dawha, GMD, NNPC


The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation bans 113 vessels from entering Nigeria’s territorial waters to lift crude oil

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Aug 3, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THE Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, wielded the big stick on oil tankers involved in sharp practices in the export of crude oil from the country. Last week, the NNPC banned 113 oil tankers from lifting crude oil from Nigeria. According to a document signed by Gbenga Komolafe, group general manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, NNPC, the tankers were banned from entering Nigerian oil facilities and territorial waters.

The document obtained from Platts, a global energy trading information source, said, “The NNPC has prohibited 113 tankers from engaging in crude oil/gas loading activities in any of the terminals within the Nigerian territorial waters until further notice.” The letter, was dated July 15, and addressed to terminal operators in Nigeria, while the tankers were listed in an attached spreadsheet. “The affected vessels have also been barred from movements within the Nigerian territorial waters forthwith. Finally, enforcement of the above directives takes immediate effect pending a notice to the contrary by Government, please,” it said.

The vessels include mainly VLCC crude oil tankers were banned from calling at crude oil terminals and also from Nigerian waters with immediate effect, as stated in a letter circulated by the NNPC pending a notice to the contrary by (the) government. However, operators in the sector said that the directive was a step in the right direction, judging by the level of impunity and corruption that were rife in the sector.

Afe Mayowa, former president, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists, who is also the managing director, Danvic Petroleum International, noted that by banning the 113 vessels from lifting the country’s crude, the present administration was determined to stamp out corruption, particularly in the oil sector.

“I may not be privy to the detailed information on the banning of the vessels, but we all know that quite a lot of things were done in the past without really going through the proper procedures. You are also aware of the subsidy issue. In fact, a lot of irregularities have happened in the industry and the oil and gas sector had been in focus for the greater part of the last administration. There were so many accusations that were not made open. The immediate past minister of petroleum resources was accused of so many things and because of her relationship with former President Goodluck Jonathan, she was always protected,” he said.

But according to Reuters report, some oil traders and vessel owners noted that the list included ships that had not called at Nigerian ports for years as well as several tankers such as the Happiness, Huge and Diona, operated by Iranian group, NITC, which had little business in Nigeria for some time. Some of the vessels were also listed twice, meaning that the number of banned vessels could be smaller than 113.

An operator said that he was not surprised to hear that some vessels had been banned. “More scrutiny is coming to the sector. The ban is not a surprise to me. The President understands the sector and I think he will continue with many of such surprises,” he said.

It was learnt that the directive to ban the vessels emanated from President Muhammadu Buhari as part efforts to crack down on illegal crude oil trading in the country. Some senior officials at the NNPC were said to have been alarmed on hearing that the President had directed the ban of some oil tankers. An official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “There is a normal channel to follow before such information is released to the public. But we were surprised that we read it as released by Platts and we checked among ourselves to know if anyone was actually aware of it, but to our surprise, many people in key departments here said they didn’t know anything about it.


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