The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) are partnering to develop standards for marine vessels.
OPTS is a private industry group under the umbrella of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), which comprises multinationals and indigenous exploration and production firms.
NCDMB Executive Secretary, Simbi Kesiye Wabote, disclosed this while receiving the new executives of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), led by the President, Dr. Mkgeorge Onyung, in his office in Abuja.
According to Wabote, the standards will be applied in marine tenders by operators and will specify technical specifications that must be met by marine vessels.
The conceptualisation of the standards will have input from stakeholders and will enhance business opportunities for marine operators and stimulate capacity building, efficient maintenance of vessels and optimum service delivery, Wabote explained.
He added that NCDMB was desirous to promote the development of shipyards and would collaborate with the shipowners or any group that would submit a bankable proposal on how to domicile that important capacity in-country.
Responding to a request by the shipowners for the Board to relax certain conditions, which made it difficult for them to access the Nigerian Content Intervention (NCI Fund), the NCDMB chief insisted that conditions on the NCI Fund would remain.
He clarified why the Board instituted those conditions, including the demand for Bank Guarantee from the applicant’s commercial bank, to guard against failure of the loans and the entire credit scheme. “We set tight conditions because we do not want the Fund to fail,” he added.
He described the NCI Fund as phenomenal success, noting that 90 per cent of the funds have been accessed by oil and gas companies that met the set conditions.
Mkgeorge Onyung, explained that the visit was aimed at familiarising the Board with the new executive of the association and seek innovative ways the organisations could collaborate.
He commended NCDMB for the impactful implementation of the Nigerian Content Act, which has led to the exponential growth of indigenous marine sector. He lauded the Board for developing the revised Marine Vessel Categorisation Scheme and expressed the hope that it would lead to more industry contracts for their members.
Onyung stated that some members of the association were working with foreign partners to start ship building and repair centres and will require support and collaboration from NCDMB.
He declared that shipping consisted of 90 per cent of global trade and SOAN wanted to contribute its quota to national economic development, adding that the association was planning to organise a national conference and would use the forum to showcase how Nigerian Content had provided an enabling environment for shipping to thrive.
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Other executive members of SOAN sought the Board’s intervention towards getting international oil companies to change the 10-year age restriction they placed on marine vessels that would be hired in the Nigerian oil and gas industry.
According to them, it took an average of five to six years for a contracted vessel to break even, hence it would be unprofitable, if such a vessel is barred from working shortly after it clocked 10.
They proposed a partnership with NCDMB, whereby the Board would sponsor cadets to gain sea-time onboard vessels owned by SOAN members, adding that the association operated a similar scheme with the Maritime Academy in Oron, Akwa Ibom State and had 59 cadets onboard ships, with the school paying a discounted rate for the opportunities.
The association pleaded with the Board to compel the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to use indigenous tankers for shiping of its products. They regretted that only one Nigerian tanker was engaged by the NNPC in contravention of Nigerian Content directive.
Wabote, however, stated the Board’s readiness to partner SOAN to provide sea-time experience to young Nigerians and charged the association to submit a detailed proposal on the idea.
He stated that NCDMB was exploring an arrangement, whereby ExxonMobil Nigeria would deploy a training vessel as a Capacity Development Initiative (CDI). The training vessel would have extra deck spaces for cadets and operate under a sustainable arrangement.
He also challenged SOAN to engage the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), NNPC and Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) on some of its demands, which border on the mandate of those agencies.
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