The Federal Government has delayed, without giving notice, the renewal of crude oil lifting contracts for the 2013/2014 period which is supposed to have commenced August 1, 2013, Daily Trust has learnt.
The crude oil lifting is done by some private firms after going through a tender process for a particular period, normally one year.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had called for expression of interest on May 20, this year, from eligible indigenous and international ship owners and oil trading firms to apply for the lifting of crude oil between August 1, 2013 and July 31, 2014.
The list of qualified companies for crude oil deals was supposed to be out long before the expiration of the last contract date of August 1, 2013 but as of today, sources said there are some issues with the list as officials at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and those of the NNPC are having conflicting interests.
Daily Trust learnt that due to the delay, the lifters of the last season were still lifting the crude though their contracts expired over one a month ago.
There were complaints in the last list when the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke introduced many indigenous firms in the crude oil lifting contract in the name of local content policy of the federal government.
While some players argued that introducing indigenous firms in the lifting contract is in good faith, others believe it was done to payback some political associates of the present administration.
Maritime industry watchers wonder whether there would be a flawless list of companies for the 2013 – 2014 season with such delay.
The Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) confirmed to our reporter that though the contract date has elapsed, none of their members was approached for this year’s contract.
Federal Government said it was making effort to ensure indigenous ship-owners secure government’s approval to move crude oil. This is coming on the heels of reported loss of over N1.57 trillion annually by Nigeria through foreign shipping firms.
But NNPC in the advert had insisted that indigenous ship owners must show that they are capable of effectively handling the cargoes.
“To qualify, the indigenous ship owners are requested to have a minimum annual turnover of US $500 million and net worth of less than $100 million” which some of the firms considered as a strategic move to edge them out.
For over a week, effort to get reaction from NNPC’s spokeswoman, Mrs Tumini Green, proved abortive as her telephone line wasn’t responding. Also the email and SMS sent to her were not replied as at press time.
Information from Daily Trust was used in this report.