Do Nigerian Shipowners Have What It Takes To Compete With Foreign Counterparts?

Eng. Mathew Alalade (President, Merchant Navy Senior Staff) If Nigerian shipowners do not have what it takes, I believe government should partner with them until they finally acquire these vessels, the government should create an enabling environment for our shipowners, they should implement a policy that would make it compulsory for the foreign vessels to partner with Nigerian shipowners, this is to ensure that they don't take all the bounties whenever they come to lift our crude, they should get a Nigerian ship owner to stand for them before they can lift our crude based on commission, this would go on until Nigerians are now able to acquire the vessels. 

Capt Adewale Ishola (Master Mariner)I believe Nigerian shipowners have big vessels, Genesis Shipping has a vessel of almost 40, 000 metric tonnes, Morlap Shipping also has one that is about 30, 000 Metric tonnes, so if the NNPC are honestly willing to engage Nigerian ship owners, it could be achieved and they would be able to compete favorably against their foreign counterparts. But first, NNPC must ensure that Nigerian shipowners have the contract, once they have the contract then they would be able to engage the vessel for a long period. The contract is very important, what is the essence of buying a vessel when you have no contract for the vessel? It has happened in the past and nobody wants to do such thing again, if I have a contract of five years, I can get a vessel that would serve the purpose and I would be able to repay. For some people in the upstream, they are given 25years contract, while those in the downstream, NNPC gives then one year and two years contract which cannot support in buying a vessel, no shipyard would support you without a long term contract because you would not have capacity to pay back.   

Sampson Chima (Registrar, NIS)We have always heard the indigenous shipowners complain that they are unable to compete against the IOC’s because they don’t have the capacity, but I believe the CVFF is meant for this purpose; to assist the indigenes in the acquisition of ships, this is where NIMASA needs to come in and make the CVFF available so that the shipowners can participate and compete against their international counterparts. Government should also come in and interfere in this situation, it has been on ground for a long time and it has been clearly identified that it is only through assistance that it would be achievable. To the best of my knowledge, acquiring a vessel by an individual involves a lot of capital and this is where the CVFF should come in. Again, if the shipowners can put resources together they could be able to acquire big vessels, apart from CVFF, shipowners could approach banks, and I believe they can.  

Chief Eugene Nweke (Former President, NAGAFF) I think you should have asked what the level of Government patronage is before now under the local content arrangement. How competitive is the shipping sector?  Then, what are the available shipping incentives due for the indigenous ship owners?  At any case, the nation's shipping Act is still going through a legislative amendment at the NASS. It is only we get answer to all of these that we would reason together to see if this directive to shipowners by NNPC suffices. Also, our shipping environment in Nigeria is not competitive enough to underscore or suggest that our indigenous ship owners don't have what it takes to compete.   Rev. Nicodemus Odollo (Vice President, Shippers Association Lagos State)Some of the shipowners may have the means to compete and the raw money but there is no guarantee to get the business contract.  What the shipowners are saying is, government should give indigenous shipowners the business contract with time frame, and this would allow them to acquire the vessel to more Nigerian crude. 

Prince Olayiwola Shittu (President ANLCA)The NNPC and its joint venture partners can help Nigerian to have the needed capacity; we also have the Bank of Industry (BOI), NNPC can be the collateral for Bank of Industry to go into the venture with foreign banks to achieve capacity for Nigerian shipowners. Also, if ship owners cannot get 5million liters of tanks, let them start with 500 liters. They should buy the one that can transfer from one port to the other, not waiting until they buy the biggest one. If we want to empower Nigerians, we must ensure that any foreign vessel aspiring to operate in our territory respects the local content law by going into partnership with Nigerians. We would now be supervising the vessel, whatever that Nigerian realizes could be used as a build up to acquire his own vessel. For example most of the commercial vehicles in the country are on higher purchase, but eventually when the person completes the money, it becomes his own. That is what they should do for the shipowners.  Tunde Keshinro (GM Grimaldi Shipping) It is a known fact that indigenous capacity is limited by finance and this is the reason why Nigerian government through NIMASA designed the ship acquisition fund and support program. However, this has been of limited impact on the business profile of Nigerian ship owners.Where there is commitment to support the Nigerian ship owners with regular and sustainable contract, I believe they can explore the available different options either finance or equipment leasing possibilities to increase their tonnage.  NNPC should also be ready to assure them of more works. 

Dr Martin Enebeli (Consultant)That is the essence of the concept of NIMASA they are supposed to be there to encourage indigenous acquisition of ships that is the essence of the 3% and 2%.  Dr Tee Mac Iseli (MD Tee Mac Petroleum) The truth is that Nigerian shipowners don’t have the financial capacity to acquire bigger oil tankers. Some 20 years ago, Nigerian owned vessels were sold off and looted, so most of them are now broke to acquire such but some big guys in the country acquire this and made money out of it and it is very bad. It is a tragedy that a country like Nigeria still hires such and be making money for other countries.  Nigerian shipping lines are not taken care of and the government does not know that there is big money there in renting vessels. They should hire experts.