President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate ban of 113 crude oil vessels from doing business in any of the 27 oil terminals within the length and breadth of the Nigerian territorial waters.
The ban followed a directive contained in a memo dated July 15, 2015 by the Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Gbenga Komolafe, to all terminal operators.
Copies of the memo were also sent the Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources; Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency, and the Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service.
No reason was stated in the memo why the ban was imposed on the affected vessels.
However, industry sources familiar with the development said the ban may not be unconnected with certain discrepancies between the volume of crude oil lifted by the affected vessels from various Nigerian terminals and the volume eventually discharged abroad to buyers.
The source, who pleaded not to be named, as he was not authorised to speak officially on the issue, said the NNPC had faced the challenge of explaining huge differences between the volume of crude oil lifted from Nigeria by these vessels and what they actually delivered to customers abroad.
Considering the huge volumes involved, the source said it was difficult to rule out high level connivance to steal the country’s crude oil using the affected vessels, a development that costs the Nigerian government huge losses in revenue.
Since his assumption of office, President Buhari, himself a former Minister of Petroleum, has met the top hierarchy of NNPC management and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to express his concern over the huge impact of crude oil theft on the country’s economy.
The President has also met with the leadership of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Navy to emphasise the need for them to step up their processes to ensure close scrutiny of all NNPC’s operations at all terminals within the country’s territorial waters.
Some of the affected vessels include MV Eliza, with international maritime organisation registration, IMO, No. 9387578 with MV Happines, with IMO No. 9212905; MV Progress, with IMO No. 9180152; MV New Harmony (No. 963207); MV Cosgrace Lake (No. 9294587) and MV Plata Glory (No. 9172674).
Others include MV Humanity (No. 9180281); MV Scf Shanghai (No. 9325968); MV Tenyo (No. 9222443); MV Astro Challenge (No. 9237072); MV Maran Thetis (No. 94214427); MV BW Bauhinia (No. 9315070); MV Dream (No.9356893); MV Xin Dan Yag (No. 96140048) and MV Desim (No. 9395305).