The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) have been urged to settle their operational issues on the detained gas vessel “Navigator Capricorn”.
Mr Bassey Essien, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), made the plea in Lagos.
Essien said that the inability to attend to the issues of ‘Navigator Capricorn’ detained by NIMASA on time could lead to scarcity of gas in the industry.
He said that the vessel, which was charted by NLNG to discharge cooking gas to Lagos terminal, had remained in NIMASA’s custody for about five days.
According to him, if the vessel remains detained longer than necessary, it can lead to scarcity of LPG.
Essien said that already the price had started galloping from 3.80m /20MT within a few days to 4.25m /20MT.
“If the vessel is delayed longer than expected, it is going to bring gap from the supply chain and if the gap is not replenished in the stock where it’s being discharged, there is going to be scarcity.
“Some people will capitalise on this to increase the price at the domestic market.
“I appeal that whatever is the issues between the two bodies, they should try to resolve it as soon as possible,’’ he said.
Also, Mr Andy Odey, the Manager, Communications and Public Affairs of NLNG, confirming the detention of the vessel by NIMASA, said: “We are aware of the detained chartered vessel used by NLNG to deliver LPG to Lagos terminal.
“The owner has been engaging with NIMASA on the issues. Moreso, as at Saturday, the confirmation I heard was that the vessel had been released to the owners,” Odey said.
He confirmed that the product had been discharged in Lagos and the little break would not in any way affect pricing at the domestic market.
“The issues of contravention is between NIMASA and the vessel owners.
“I don’t have details of what exactly they have agreed on, but the vessel has been discharged by NIMASA,” Odey said.
Meanwhile, Mr Isichei Osamgbi, Head, Corporate Communications, NIMASA said it was a normal government operational procedure and that the vessel had been released.
“There is no NLNG vessel in our custody in NIMASA. The best I can tell you as at now is that it’s a normal operational procedure and no vessel is being held,’’ he said.
The vessel `Navigator Capricorn’, which was on lease to NLNG since last year has been having a running battle with NIMASA over its operations in Nigeria; being a foreign vessel.
The issue got to crescendo last week with NIMASA detaining the vessel at the NOJ, one of the berthing space specially dedicated at the NNPC-owned jetty at Apapa.
Osamgbi said the vessel that berthed at the jetty about 10 days ago had finished discharging gas to major gas depots in Apapa.
He listed the depots to include PPMC, NIPCO, major oil company’s facility as well as 26 off takers of NLNG.
According to him, the vessel was billed to sail out before NIMASA sledge hammer began to dangle on it.
A sources said that the vessel was detained due to non-compliance with the nation’s Cabotage law as it affects foreign vessel.
Under the Nigerian law, all foreign vessels operating charter services in Nigeria waters are supposed to have a certain number of Nigerians on board as part of its personnel
However, in the case of the detained vessel, it was not having Nigerians on board, which runs contrary to the nation’s laws.
The source recalled that the vessel is on charter by NLNG for upward of two years in replacement of gas providence being used before by the company, to supply domestic LPG to depots in Nigeria.
According to the source, the vessel after series of negotiation between the company- NIMASA and key stakeholders had to be moved to safe anchorage to allow other operators access to the berthing space at the Apapa jetty.
The NOJ is key to LPG supply in Nigeria as it is the only jetty available for now for LPG receipt in Apapa axis, where over 80 per cent of the entire LPG supply can be delivered to depots.
The vessel, which sails out at 16.42 hours on Feb. 7 to a safe anchorage pending the resolution of the issue, implies that the expected return of the vessel to Apapa after loading at Bonny might not be actualised as envisaged.