…Onoharigho blames joblessness on monopoly and discrimination by the International Oil Companies***
The President of the Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS), Capt. Tony Onoharigho, has expressed worry at the joblessness of many Nigerian class societies recognised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
In a statement in Lagos on Wednesday, Onoharigho blamed the situation on monopoly and discrimination by the International Oil Companies (IOCs).
He said that the companies did not want vessels not classed by International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) to operate in their oil fields.
He added that the oil companies had begun to refusing certificates issued by the non-IACS members, regretting that the situation made many Nigerian shipowners to leave their ships at various jetties.
According to him, there are clear indications of an increase in the number of vessels stranded at various jetties across Nigeria due to the refusal of IOCs to accept vessel classification certificates issued by non-members of IACS.
“It is gathered that this discrimination by oil companies has been the major bane of the Nigerian Cabotage Law and the Local Content Law,” he said.
He noted that classification societies were non-governmental organisations that established and maintained technical standards for the construction and operation of ships and offshore structures.
He said that in view of the high cost of getting a vessel classed by IACS members, there were other highly competent and trustworthy class providers recognised by various countries so that shipowners could carry out operations.
Onoharigho said that the cost of putting vessels in a class by an IACS member was three times higher than using a non-IACS member.
The NIS president noted that there had been attempts by some Nigerian experts to form classification societies approved by NIMASA.
“NIMASA has acknowledged the non-IACS members to certify vessels in Nigeria and they accept certificates issued by them, but the oil companies refuse to accept.
“If the Nigerian Government has accepted the non-IACS members to carry out survey and certification of vessels, why should the oil company majors reject a vessel classified by non-IACS members.
“The IACS members are foreign class society companies, while the non-IACS members are mainly Nigerians.
“We need to compel the oil companies to allow vessels classified by non-IACS members to work in their oil fields,” he said.
According to Onoharigho, unless NIMASA intervenes, most foreign oil companies may not accept non-IACS classed vessels.
He said that with the oil companies 60/40 sharing formula with the Federal Government on crude oil, they had a lot of control over what happened in their oil fields.
“They compel shipowners to make use of their own classification societies which is very expensive.
“This has caused a lot of ships in Nigeria not to have class to operate, it has kept many people out of work, and many vessels are tied down at different jetties because the oil companies don’t accept non-IACS certification.
“NIMASA should compel the oil companies to accept vessels certified by non-IACS classification approved by the government.
“They have no right to deprive any vessel from working in Nigeria because it is a national approval; these vessels are not deep sea going vessels,” Onaharigho added.