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Nigeria: Marketers Halt Importation as Petrol Scarcity Persists

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Fuel queues grew longer in many cities at the weekend — no thanks to the disagreement over subsidy between the government and marketers.

It was gathered that because marketers have reduced their import, the scarcity may persist.

But the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) plans to triple its supplies to mitigate the shortfall.

Many filling stations in major cities, including Lagos and Abuja, at the weekend either did not sell the product or sold above the N87 price. Many sold at between N97 and N110 per litre.

There were queues at filling stations. The situation got worse in Abuja yesterday, with many stations under lock and key.

The few that opened to customers were besieged by residents. Queues extended to the roads.

Besides, the petrol stations which operated yesterday only engaged in skeletal services, selling with few pumps.

At 3.00pm in Kubwa, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Oando stations were shut.

The NIPCO opposite them was overwhelmed by customers.

According to some of the motorists, who were sweating in the scoching sun, they had queued up for petrol as early as 6.00am.  It sold petrol for N87.

Oando at Dutse Junction, also on the Kubwa expressway, had a long queue.

There were two queues stretching over a kilometre to the NNPC super mega station on the same expressway.

Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, at the weekend cautioned the public to desist from panic buying.

In a statement, the corporation said it was working with all downstream industry stakeholders.

The statement said: “ The management of the NNPC has called on members of the public not to engage in panic purchase and hoarding of petroleum products as the Corporation is working with all downstream industry stakeholders to eliminate the noticeable artificially, induced fuel queues in some fuel stations.”

Alegbe added that because of the prevailing situation, the corporation, which has been responsible for 50 per cent of nationwide product supply, has stepped in to address the scarcity by tripling supply from their tank farms in Lagos and other areas in the country, which will be trucked to the hinterland. He told The Nation that the NNPC within 48 hours from Sunday will be able to inject 600, 103.047 metric tonnes of premium motor spirit (petrol) equivalent of 688 million litres into the market.

He urged to consumers to exercise patience and not engage in panic buying as the scarcity will be arrested as from tomorrow.

The initial cause of the scarcity was a reaction to oil marketers’ report that their stock level was down and the replenishment was not feasible because of unpaid subsidies that stood at N264 billion. The signal from the marketers that they would not be able to import fuel compelled some retail outlets to slow down on sale.

However, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, had a meeting with the marketers last week promised that the debt would be fully paid by end of this month. Based on this promise, the marketers agreed to continue with importation of petrol.

However, the National Assembly last week cut the 2015 subsidy budget of N200 billion by half. This action,The Nation learnt, didn’t go down well with the marketers as their fears were heightened that the government may renege on their promise to pay the outstanding debt let alone additional debt. The marketers before now have been showing concern over budgetary allocation of N200 billion for subsidy in 2015, wondering if that may mean a step to full deregulation of the downstream sector.

Although the Executive Secretary of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Obafemi Olawore and the President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chief Chinedu Okoronkwo, could not be reached yesterday, Olawore confirmed to reporters that there was a drop in MOMAN members’ stock but with the meeting held with the Minister of Finance, they would step up importation.

For IPMAN, it was learnt that the level of debt owed them is enormous. Theirs is a complex case becauseThe Nation learnt that many of their members have issues with clearance on the imports they made and without the clearance there will be no payment.

Besides, The Nation also gathered that the banks had stopped granting letters of credits (LCs) to IPMAN members, which worsened the supply situation.

At the moment, only the NNPC through its subsidiary, the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), is importing petrol.

Source:The Nation

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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