The firm hinged the call on the need to check the rising security challenges in Nigerian waters, particularly in the oil and gas rich Niger Delta region. It said it was making the call due to the fact that its operations had been adversely affected in recent times.
According to the company, the security situation on shallow water and deep offshore was fast deteriorating due to the era of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
The Commercial Manager of INTELS, Mr. Sunny Ijere, stated this when the board of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), led by Senator Florence Ita-Giwa, visited the port.
Ijere, whose company provides logistical services to Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Eni, Total and several other oil companies, told the board members that illegal anchoring of various vessels at the Ikpokiri end of the port posed a threat to the Oil and Gas Free Zone.
He also lamented that illegal bunkering activities around the Ikpokiri and Okrika areas have escalated in recent times. According to him, “From security intelligence, it was observed that the security situation on shallow water and deep offshore has returned to the same situation as it was during the crisis of 2009”.
The Rivers State Government had acquired some 2,000 hectares of land to build its own free oil and gas trade zone christened the Port Harcourt Energy City.
He explained that the over 150 investors, mainly multinational firms, operating at the Onne Port, with investments valued at over $6 billion, still lacked access to sustainable power supply nearly 30 years after the port was established.
He also said the challenges facing its operations in the zone included the terrible state of the East-west Road, especially the Port Harcourt-Aba Expressway to Onne section of the road, and the state of the Bonny Channel, Calabar and Warri entrance channels, which he said needed dredging and deepening.
Ijere explained that Federal Lighter Terminal, which is part of the Oil and Gas Free Zone, was completed in the late 1970s and meant to decongest the Lagos and Warri ports.
Similarly, the Federal Ocean Terminal, which was also conceived at about the same time with the intention of being one of the deepest ports in West Africa was however abandoned by the foreign contractors building it due to lack of funding.
On the issue of port concession, he explained that INTELS commitment for 25 years to NPA is $724,651,719.00. The amount entails payments for commencement fee, leasing fee, throughput fee and land industrial area fee. He revealed that so far, the company has paid NPA between 2006 and June 2013 the sum of $115,731,681.47.
Ijere also pointed out that despite the fact that about 25,000 jobs have been created by companies operating within the Oil and Gas Free Zone, access road to Onne from Port Harcourt, particularly the East-West Road, is in a terrible state.
INTELS implored the board to prevail on the federal government to consider dredging and deepening of the Bonny Channel, Calabar and Warri entrance channels to make for easier passage of vessels to and from the ports.
Ita-Giwa, who represented chairman of the board, Chief Tony Anenih, said they were on a familiarisation tour of Eastern ports to acquaint themselves with the challenges being faced by port operators.
She lauded the companies operating in the zone and INTELS in particular for its huge investments in the Oil and Gas Free Zone, and said they would report their findings to the appropriate agencies for intervention.
Information from ThisDay was used in this report.