From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Federal Government’s addiction to offshore shipping companies costs local ship owners a whopping $1.9 billion annually, as they are starved of patronage.
The Chairman of the National Fleet Management Committee, Mr. Hassan Bello, made the revelation in Abuja on Friday when he visited the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari in his office in Abuja.
Bello urged the NNPC GMD to encourage the subsidiaries to always engage indigenous shipping companies in their businesses.
He implored the NNPC boss to grant local shipping companies the right of first refusal in crude oil lifting contracts, saying it would help grow the economy and sustain their businesses.
The Chairman noted that the Committee was set up three years ago by the Federal Ministry of Transportation with a mandate to promote Nigerian ownership of ships and vessels to enable local companies take control of the shipping business which is in line with the economic diversification policy of the Federal Government.
Responding, Kyari assured Bello of his readiness to support indigenous fleet owners to enjoy greater patronage and participation in the oil and gas maritime business in Nigeria.
He said that with the scale of the Corporation’s activities in the maritime sector, NNPC would get more active in the affairs of the Fleet Management Committee with a view to strengthening the synergy between the Corporation and the private sector.
“We believe in this process, we will ensure that Nigerian ships enjoy a greater patronage in the business henceforth,” Kyari assured.