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ONNE FREE ZONE: OGFZA boss, Alabo, thrilled by Intels’ whopping investments

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  • Says company driven by confidence in Nigerian economy

Relentlessly deploying huge investments expanding and upgrading facilities to top world-class standards, leading energy logistics services provider and concessionaire at the Onne Port Complex, Rivers State, South-South Nigeria, Intels Nigeria Limited, has transformed the Onne Free Zone into an investors’ paradise, attracting, to date, foreign direct investments (FDIs) of over 60 billion (United States) Dollars to the free zone.

The Managing Director of the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA), Honourable Victor Alabo, who gave the investment portfolio of the Onne Free Zone in an interview, said that “for the free zones across the country, the other zones are not as successful as this and investment portfolio there is about 12 to 15 billion (US) Dollars”.

Alabo spoke at the Onne Port Complex on the sidelines of the just-concluded two-day retreat organised by the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) in conjunction with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

The event had as its theme: Addressing Unemployment and Poverty through the Development of SMEs and Indusrialisation.
The retreat held at the Onne Port Multi Centre (OPMC) established by Intels to support all operating companies in the Oil and Gas Free Zone in their accommodation needs, meetings, seminars/conferences, exhibitions, etc.
The OGFZA boss said: “Intels is the biggest player in this free zone, and as an investor in free zones, they have confidence in Nigeria’s economy. So, they have done massive investments within the free zone. For instance, they are into port development. Initially, the port here had only about seven to nine metres draught, but they have gone to nine to 12 metres draught.
“It is a public private partnership between Intels and (Federal) Ministry of Transport. So, whatever the size of the cargo, it arrives at the port here because the draught have been developed. And if you don’t have faith in the economy of this country, you cannot invest much, because only the port, the last phase of port investment, is about $3.5 billion. So, that is what we expect of others.”
On local content compliance level at the Onne Free Zone, he said: “The local content issue has been very effective here. Most companies have Local Content Desk, which will ensure that they comply with the Local Content Act, and we go round to ensure that they have done that. There are some companies that have gone up to 100 per cent compliance with the act. On a daily basis, we have over 30,000 people; both direct and indirect jobs.”
Rating the Onne Free Zone operationally, he said: “This free zone is adjudged as the most developed or successful free zone world over that is dedicated to oil and gas. It is because of the consistence of government policies and also the ingenuity that we have brought into management of free zones.”
Alabo explained that there was a culture of regular stakeholders meetings with investors to address their challenges, providing a feedback mechanism to deliberate jointly on whatever the challenges are how resolve these, such that there is a win-win situation.
“You know, government has provided lots of incentives; some are physical incentives, some are tax incentives, and these have attracted the investors into the free zone. Government also ensures that they are consistent with these incentives. If there are policy somersault, the investors lose confidence in bringing in their funds into the investment.
“As long as this confidence is established, it attracts many other investors coming into the zone. That is why in this zone, we have close to 200 investors, several, falling into  the maritime sector, the light manufacture sector and the downstream sector of the oil and gas, and we will say it is a success story and we hope to replicate this success story in other parts of the country,” the OGFZA boss said.
Enunciating the free zones concept in Nigeria, he said: “For oil and gas free zones, we have Onne, Ikpokiri, Warri, Lagos, Eko Support, Brass Oil and Gas Free Zone; these are the ones under our regulation. There are other oil and gas free zones that are not under our regulation. But they were created before the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority was established, and by law they are supposed to fall under our management. But they are still under the management of Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority; Like LADOL Oil and Gas Free Zone, Snake Island Oil and Gas Free Zone, Olokola Oil and Gas Free Zone. The law provides that that are regulated by our Authority, while the non-oil should be regulated by another.”
Projecting on expanding the scope of investments and operations at the Onne Free Zone, Alabo said: “The area of investment we are looking for is in the downstream of the petroleum industry, because we have the raw material of crude oil, we have gas. We cannot continue to just export these raw material. And so, we are encouraging investors to come into the free zone because we are expecting gas to be there.
“The crude line is not far away from here, so that they can use this crude and gas to produce fertiliser, plastics, petrochemicals and refineries. So, that is the concept of development now.”

—Maritime Matters 

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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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