INTERTANKO still advising against Nigeria trade for banned tankers

Corruption, Disputes, EEZ, Intertanko, Maritime Fraud, Oil Industry, Safety and Security, Sanctions, Tankers — By on September 10, 2015 at 5:52 PM

intertanko_logoINTERTANKO’s continues to advise its Members against taking any vessel on Nigeria’s list of banned tankers either into Nigeria or into its EEZ, despite a recent letter from NNPC which some are interpreting as a lifting of the ban.

Moreover we continue to advise Members who have ships on the banned list to exercise extreme caution with their whole fleet. Any Member who decides to trade to Nigeria should follow the practical advice we have given and make use of the INTERTANKO Nigeria Trade Clause  in their fixtures.

NNPC has sent a follow up to its letter of 15 July 2015. We understand that this letter, dated 8 September 2015, has been sent to local terminal operators and oil and gas traders.

While some are interpreting this latest letter as a lifting of the ban, we continue to advise against trading to Nigeria any ship on the banned  list. The penalties for any alleged contraventions of Nigerian law by these ships are draconian including forfeiture of the ship and life imprisonment of the crew.

This latest NNPC letter does represent something of a step change and may even suggest that ALL ships are now welcome in Nigeria provided a ‘letter of comfort’ is received. However, the language of the letter is vague and we do not believe it can be relied on by owners to clear the vessels on the banned list for trade to Nigeria.

NNPC officials have indicated that the second paragraph of this letter ‘implies’ that the ban has been lifted, provided a satisfactory letter of comfort is received. However the letter goes on to say that the authorities will be reviewing the activities of those banned ships.

We will endeavour to clarify this point with NNPC but in the meantime we believe that there is currently no mechanism  whereby a ship can be removed from the list of banned ships or whereby an assurance can be given e.g. for a ship in the same ownership. Unless and until the ban is actually lifted, we continue to strongly advise that any vessel on the list of banned ships should not trade Nigeria or sail into Nigeria’s EEZ. Nigeria should also be excluded from trading limits.

For other vessels not on the list of banned ships, the letter appears to require the terminal operator/shipper to submit a ‘letter of comfort’ to NNPC that the ship will not be used in any illegal activity. However it is not clear what that letter of comfort might say; neither is it clear whether an owner might also be required to provide ‘comfort’ to the Nigerian authorities and/or to the terminal operator that it will not engage in any illegal activity in Nigerian waters.

INTERTANKO’s letters to the various Nigerian Authorities so far remain unanswered. INTERTANKO will follow up with NNPC to achieve absolute certainty whether or not a banned ship may now trade there. In addition we will continue to press the Nigerian Authorities for information on the alleged contraventions committed by Members’ banned ships.

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