22 September 2014, Lagos – The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has arrested a vessel, GAZ PROVIDENCE, which came to Lagos from the Bonny Island plant of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited to discharge Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), otherwise called cooking gas.
The vessel, it was learnt, is currently being held at the Creek Road, Apapa terminal of Navgas by military personnel attached to NIMASA for violation of the Cabotage Act, the maritime equivalent of the Nigerian Content Law in the oil and gas industry.
THISDAY gathered that the Panama-flagged tanker, which was built in 2010, has International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Number 9448504, gross tonnage of 16,777; deadweight of 17,022 and with a length of 154 metres and width of 25.52 metres.
It was learnt that the vessel sailed to Lagos with 12,000 metric tonnes of LPG, an equivalent of 600 tankers of LPG, or 960,000 pieces of 12.5kg cooking gas cylinders.
The tanker, it was learnt, had already discharged 8,000 metric tonnes at the Creek Road, Apapa terminal of Navgas before it was arrested by the maritime regulator.
A source close to the tanker told THISDAY at the weekend that out of the 8,000 metric tonnes discharged at Navgas, Oando loaded 1,500 metric tonnes; Algasco received 4,800 metric tonnes; Gasland loaded 500 metric tonnes; while Hyson, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) got 600 metric tonnes.
Other companies that received LPG from the vessel before the arrest, include Techno Gas, 300 metric tonnes; Banner gas, 200 metric tonnes; Chimons Gas, 200 metric tonnes and Gas Terminaling, 200 metric tonnes.
THISDAY’s investigation revealed that the tanker, which was yet to be allowed to sail back to Bonny, was still loaded with the remaining 4,000 metric tonnes at the Navgas terminal, where it was being held by military personnel attached to NIMASA.
“The vessel violated the Cabotage Act. It is supposed to have Nigerians onboard since it is operating locally but only foreigners are onboard the vessel. NIMASA has been writing to the company, which chartered the vessel and leased it to NLNG since 2012 but they refused to comply with the Cabotage Law. That was why it was arrested,” said a source familiar with the issue.
It was however learnt that even though the vessel is under detention, it can still be allowed to discharge the remaining 4,000 metric tonnes but cannot be allowed to sail away.
The foreign vessel, which was registered in Panama, was chartered by another company, which is using it to lift LPG from the NLNG plant in Bonny Island to Lagos.
A source close to NLNG, who confirmed the development, told THISDAY that NLNG was putting pressure on the company that chartered the vessel to comply with NIMASA’s requirements to ensure prompt release of the tanker.
“We understand that the vessel has been on NIMASA radar for quite sometimes because the operator is alleged to have breached Cabotage. So, the arrest has nothing to do with the LPG or the marketers or the NLNG. They will still allow it to discharge the remaining LPG, while the issues are being sorted out. NIMASA has been monitoring the vessel and when it came to Lagos, they saw it as an opportunity to arrest the tanker,” he said.
– This Day