The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has finally bowed to the pressure mounted by the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) and lifted a ban on 113 foreign vessels, mostly very large crude carriers (VLCCs) into Nigeria’s territorial waters less than two months after the ban was imposed.
Acting on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, NNPC imposed the ban shortly after Buhari assumed office over concerns that most of the tankers were complicit in incidents of crude oil theft from Nigerian oil terminals.
INTERTANKO, whose members were mostly affected by the ban of the 113 vessels, is one of the largest groups in the shipping industry with 207 full members and 285 associate members, and a registered fleet of over 3,000 tankers of over 270 million DWT (deadweight).
In his capacity as the then Group General Manager of NNPC in charge of Crude Oil Marketing Division, Mr. Gbenga Komolafe had in a letter last July conveyed the decision of the corporation to ban the vessels from Nigerian loading terminals and territorial waters, citing a directive from Buhari.
The letter, which was addressed to all terminal operators of the 27 crude oil loading terminals in Nigeria, said the ban took immediate effect.
The 27 affected terminals included Forcados, Bonny, Bonga, Sea Eagle, Qua Iboe, Erha, Yoho, Usan, Bonny River Terminal, Escravos, Agbami, Pennington, Escravos LPG FSO, and Escravos Gas Terminal.
Others included Antan, Okwori, Odudu, Akpo, Brass, Abo, Okono, Oyo, Ima, Okoro, Ukpokiti, Tulja and Ebok.
Some of the 113 vessels affected by the ban included Maran Callisto, MV Kalamos, Overseas Kilimanjaro, MV Eliza, MV Happinnes, MV Brightoil Gem, VK Eddie, MV Achilleas, MV Progress, Universal Brave and Noridic Hunter, among others.
But NNPC eventually lifted the ban on 113 vessels, according to a letter by NNPC’s Group General Manager in charge of Crude Oil Sales Division, Mr. Mele Kyari, which was seen by Reuters.
The letter dated September 8 said the president approved the consideration of all incoming ships subject to a letter guaranteeing that they are free and will not be used for any illegal activity.