Nigeria has lifted a two-month ban on 113 Crude tankers from operating in its sovereign waters.
The Website of the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC on Thursday announced the lifting of the embargo earlier placed on some 113 Vessels banning them from engaging in Crude Oil/Gas loading activities in any of the Terminals within Nigerian Territorial waters.
The NNPC in a release explained that the lifting of the ban is subject to the receipt of Letters of Comfort from all Terminal Operators, Oil Companies and Off-takers of Nigerian Oil and Gas as guarantee that nominated vessels, pending the outcome of detailed investigation, are unencumbered and would not be utilized for any illegal activity whatsoever.
The Corporation noted that in view of the above, the Federal Government has approved the establishment of an Inter-Agency Committee made up of the Department of State Services, DSS, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Nigerian Navy, Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR and the NNPC with the mandate to collect data and investigate the activities of the banned vessels within Nigerian territorial waters.
“The Inter-Agency Committee will appraise the culpability or otherwise of each of the vessels in the time past and advise appropriately,’’ the NNPC stated.
The NNPC imposed the ban on July 15 to curb alleged illegal shipping of crude out of the country. The tankers were prohibited from entering oil facilities and territorial waters.
Independent Association of Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) Advices members
Despite NNPC’s lifting the ban, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO) continues to advise its members against taking any vessel on Nigeria’s list of banned tankers either into Nigeria or its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.
The maritime-executive reports that in a statement INTERTANKO said: “While some are interpreting this latest letter as a lifting of the ban, we continue to advise against trading to Nigeria any ship on the banned list. The penalties for any alleged contraventions of Nigerian law by these ships are draconian, including forfeiture of the ship and life imprisonment of the crew.”
INTERTANKO also added:
“This latest NNPC letter does represent something of a change and may even suggest that all ships are now welcome in Nigeria provided a ‘letter of comfort’ is received. However, the language of the letter is vague and we do not believe it can be relied on by owners to clear the vessels on the banned list for trade to Nigeria.”