1080Nigerians may experience scarcity of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), better known as cooking gas, following the detention of NLNG Limited’s vessel by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) over alleged violation of the Cabotage Act, THISDAY has learnt.
It was gathered that the detention of ‘MT Navigator Capricorn,’ the only vessel that supplies cooking gas to Nigeria’s domestic market, has created supply crisis, leading to a hike in the price of the product.
The maritime regulator yesterday also said it had commenced clampdown on vessels that do not comply with the provisions of the Cabotage Compliance Strategy introduced last year, to ease the implementation of the Cabotage Act of 2003.
The vessel, which brought 13,000 metric tonnes of LPG to Lagos from NLNG’s Bonny Island plant in Rivers State, was detained for about 10 days by NIMASA at the NOJ Jetty at Apapa after it had discharged its product.
NLNG brought in the new vessel to replace ‘MT Gas Providence,’ which used to supply LPG to the domestic market.
According to THISDAY report, the new vessel, which started operation in the country in 2018 brings in LPG every two weeks to Lagos for the licensed off takers appointed by the NLNG to distribute LPG to the domestic market.
However, the refusal of the maritime regulator to allow the vessel to sail back to Bonny Island to continue its two-weekly voyage to Lagos, created supply crisis.
The development, it was learnt, has already led to a hike in the cost of cooking gas in the country.
According to one of the marketers, the vessel, which is 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 marketer said: “The issue got to its peak last week with NIMASA detaining the vessel at the NOJ, one of the berthing space specially dedicated at the NNPC-owned jetty at Apapa
“The vessel that berthed at the jetty about 10 days ago had finished discharging gas to major gas depots in Apapa, including NNPC, NIPCO, as well as 26 off takers of NLNG last weekend and was billed to sail away before NIMASA detained it.”
However, after series of negotiation between NIMASA, NLNG and key stakeholders in the LPG sector, the vessel was moved to safe anchorage to allow other operators access to NOJ Jetty, which is a very strategic berthing space at the Apapa jetty.
A top official of NIMASA, who spoke to THISDAY at the weekend, said the vessel was detained due to non-compliance with the Cabotage Act as it affects foreign vessels.
He explained: “Under the Cabotage Act, all foreign vessels operating charter services in Nigerian waters are supposed to have a certain number of Nigerians on board as part of its crew.
“However in the case of the detained vessel, it was not having Nigerians on board, which runs contrary to our laws.”
But an official of NLNG told THISDAY on condition of anonymity that the company was aware of the provisions of the Cabotage Act, which stipulate that Nigerians must be on board foreign vessels operating in the country.
He, however, added that the safety standard set by NLNG for the vessel was too high that it would be difficult to get Nigerians with such high expertise to man the vessels.
•Excerpted from THISDAY report