Ex-NIMASA Chairman; Ramalan Tasks FG On National Carrier, Crude Oil Lifting

A former chairman of the board of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Alhaji Ahmed Tijani Ramalan has urged the Federal Government to look into the possibility of establishing a national carrier for the Nigerian shipping and oil and gas sector.
The ex-NIMASA chair told journalists on Monday that the re-establishment of a national carrier is an imperative for the realisation of the objective of Local Content Act and reinvigoration of the nation’s maritime sector.
He said it was lamentable that despite the fact that Nigeria is the largest producer of crude oil in Africa with a capacity for 2.5 million barrels per day, the nation does not really participate in the exploration, development, production and shipment of its crude oil.
He identified that “this is mainly due to a lack of a developed shipping infrastructure and fleet that are domiciled in Nigeria”.
He noted that, “Nigeria is the only oil producing country that does not have her own national fleet, whereas Angola which recently joined the ranking of oil producing countries has a fleet for her deliveries.
According to him, there absence of national carrier has not made Nigeria to reap full benefits of her being an oil producing nation. He explained that there is a symbiotic relationship between shipping and oil and gas, but noted that the absence of a national carrier is a drawback, and one fact that have denied Nigeria maximum benefits from its position as a ranking producer of crude oil. He however acknowledged that the development of a shipping industry and fleet acquisition require substantial capital.
He advised that, the Federal Government of Nigeria must kick-start the development of the shipping sector and fleet acquisition and expansion through its two relevant agencies, namely: NIMASA and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He argued that Nigeria is not doing enough as an oil producing nation, even as he maintained that, “Nigeria could and should participate actively in the exploration and shipping of her crude oil as well as in competitive participation in its refining
Wondering why Nigeria should depend largely on foreign operators to run her oil and gas scetior, Alhaji Ramalan queried the fact that in exploration and freighting of crude, “Nigeria is entirely dependent on foreign operators and on foreign ships.
Specifically, he noted that three Acts of the National Assembly, namely: NIMASA Act, Cabotage Act and the Local Content Act were sufficient to reverse the trend in collaboration with the NNPC.
“There is urgent need for this new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, through NNPC and NIMASA to take a bold position on indigenous participation in lifting of crude oil.
To achieve this, he suggested government should “promote a National Shipping Carrier through Public Private Partnership (PPP), using Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) like the (NLNG Model)to own and control at least 10% equity in vessels handling Nigeria’s crude oil export”.
According to him, “this is strategically sensible and will reduce Nigeria’s complete dependence on foreign vessels to freight her oil to customers around the world”.
He noted with adequate government policy and direct involvement of the trio of NIMASA, NNPC and the Nigerian Local Content Board, not only will Nigeria take control of the money-spinning freighting of her crude, but the nation will in a very short time boast of a National Carrier with an impressive fleet.
He also advised that Government should “take the bold step to review the current NNPC Trade Policy and also abolish the sale of Nigeria’s crude oil on Free-On-Board (FOB) basis to Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF).