FG set to revive national shipping carriers

The Federal Government has said it is ready to grant approval to indigenous shipping firms to export crude oil and stem the nation’s huge capital flight.

This is coming 17 years after the liquidation of the Nigerian National Shipping Line, which paved the way for only foreign marine tankers to move the nation’s crude oil.

Nigeria is said to have lost over $100bn in five decades by allowing its crude oil to be carried exclusively by foreign owned tankers.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Maritime Sevices, Mr. Olugbenga Oyewole, spoke about the planned approval for local shipping firms to move crude oil on Friday at the unveiling of two high-capacity oil vessels in Warri, Delta State.

An indigenous firm, Ocean Marine Tankers, which owns the two vessels, has also applied to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency for a national carrier status, according to the top government officials.

But before the approval, which NIMASA promised to facilitate in a few weeks, the vessels would supply crude oil to the Warri and Kaduna refineries, they said.

Alison-Madueke said the government was committed to the full implementation of the Cabotage Law and the Nigerian Content Law, which provide that 50 per cent of government’s cargoes should be carried by Nigerian vessels.

The minister, who spoke through the Group Executive Director, Refineries and Petrochemicals, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mr. Anthony Ogbuigwe, also said the menace of oil theft and pipeline vandalism had compelled the government to use ships to transport crude oil.

She urged all oil communities to stand up against the crimes and expose their perpetrators.

Oyewole described the coming of the two vessels as a new dawn in the nation’s maritime industry.

“Critics have said, ‘If Nigerians have what it takes to carry the Nigerian cargo, they should show it.’ They have thought it impossible, but here we are, MT Abiola and MT Igbinosa have landed. They are 45,000-metric tonne vessels to carry the Nigerian cargoes,” he said.

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