By Steve Agbota
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA is positioning Nigeria to dominate the over $2 billion Sub-Saharan Africa bunker fuel market, as it begins enforcement of International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 2020 sulphur regulation on vessels.
The new sulphur regulations of the IMO ultimately seeks to significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxide emanating from ships and and set a global limit for sulphur in fuel oil on board ships to 0.5 per cent.
It acknowledged the existence of $2 billion bunker fuel market in Sub-Saharan Africa waiting to be harnessed by Nigerian business men and women.
Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who stated this in Lagos at the opening of a two-day meeting with modular and other refinery operators and fuel oil suppliers in the country, said the agency was determined to ensure availability of marine fuels that comply with the regulation by the IMO limiting the sulphur in the fuel oil used on board ships to 0.5 per cent m/m (mass by mass).
Jamoh, who was represented by Acting Head, Marine Environment Management (MEM) Department, NIMASA, Mr. Isa Mudi, said the agency had made deliberate effort to conform to the new fuel oil mandate, known as IMO 2020.
Jamoh said: “As the country’s shipping regulator, we have had interfaces with the relevant stakeholders on how to reach a win-win agreement on Nigeria’s compliance with the IMO sulphur content cap. We are happy to announce that the coast is clear for us to achieve this mandate.
“Nigeria has an advantage ab initio, because we produce low sulphur crude. The challenge for us now is conversion of this advantage to availability of bunker fuels that meet the IMO mandate.
“I make bold to say that we have all it takes to be the bunker fuel hub for Sub-Saharan Africa. There is a $2 billion bunker fuel market in Sub-Saharan Africa waiting to be harnessed by our business men and women.”
Jamoh added: “Our refineries are not working at full-capacity, and this is an opportunity for modular and other private refineries to come in to fill a vital gap in the marine fuel supply chain. Bunker fuel is a critical element in the shipping business.
“With the coming into effect of IMO 2020, we assure you as an agency that the country’s shipping community will be galvanised to ensure availability, supply, and, in fact, self-sufficiency in 0.5 per cent sulphur content fuels in line with the IMO standard.”
In their contributions, representatives of the refineries and fuel oil suppliers pledged their cooperation with NIMASA and other relevant government agencies in the effort to make the required fuel accessible.