‎Oil marketers advocate rail movement of petroleum products nationwide

*Railroad tank wagons hauling petroleum products.

*Railroad tank wagons hauling petroleum products.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

06 November 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The problem of traffic and accidents caused by petroleum products haulage across the country will soon ease as major oil marketers have resolved to partner with the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, to lift and distribute products by rail.

In a recent letter signed by the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN, Mr. Thomas Obafemi Olawore, and addressed to Managing Director of NRC, Engr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, the oil marketers expressed belief that the partnership would be mutually beneficial, and above all, have a positive impact on the nation.

The Association observed that the management of NRC has in stock 40 pressurised tank wagons specially designed for the transportation of petroleum products by rail across the country.

“The new pressurised light oil tank wagons are superior to previous wagons used by the NRC as they have a loading capacity of 40 tons and a carriage capacity of 45,000 litres,” it noted.

It said other features of the wagons which make them superior, include high operational and maintenance facilities such as health and safety protection mechanism which prevents spillage of contents even in the event of accidents.

“The tank wagons are well fitted with in-built fire and other hazards prevention system controls and pressure gauge to show condition of oil contents at all times.

“It is noteworthy that the tank wagons are currently being used by the NRC to transport diesel from Apapa in Lagos to Kano.

“Furthermore, plans to commence movement of petroleum products for Oando from its oil tank farm in Lagos to its depot in Kaduna are being finalised,” the letter added.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) has announced that it would commence the evacuation of petroleum products from tank farms and oil depots located in Apapa by rail this month.

The corporation’s Director of Operations, Niyi Ali, who disclosed this expressed confidence that with the development, vehicular traffic that characterized the Apapa area and Tin-Can Island which host the two largest seaports in Nigeria will soon be over.

According to him, railway links to the tank farms for lifting of petroleum products by oil marketers will be completed by September this year and already, some of the oil marketing companies have started moving Automotive Gas Oil, AGO, by rail, but not yet petroleum because of safety issues.

He noted that, “Recently, the Nigerian railway moved its first commercial quantity of diesel out of Apapa. We moved 12 wagons of AGO from Lagos to Kano.

“We moved 528 thousand litres of AGO by rail. Moving AGO is a bit easier because you don’t need that amount of safety considerations. So, we can trans-load from road tankers to rail tankers and that is what we will continue to do. As time goes on, we will see an increment in not just the amount of AGOs but also other products.

“In the AGO movement, we used a third party called Connect Rail who brokered the deal between the Nigeria Railways and the product marketer, Eterna Oil Plc.”

He said the NRC has acquired 40 brand new pressurized tank wagons meant for lifting petroleum products from the jetties.

“Pressurized means that they don’t leak and that they can be guaranteed of their quantity. But there is a bit more to petroleum products movement than just having tank wagons. The important thing to remember is that unlike other traffics, the point of loading and offloading is where there are always safety concerns.

“The first thing we do in our discussions with some of the oil marketers is how to create access to the tank farms and as we speak, we have contracts to rehabilitate all the lines to the tank farms of the major oil marketers.

“The lines are currently being built and rehabilitated to their terminals. We also have ongoing discussions with most of them about the facilities that are required to trans-load the products from their tank farms into the tank wagons. We also consider the fact that these materials are highly combustible, so safety is always the key concern for us,” he added.

He said the NRC is currently moving about 60 units if 40 ft containers every week from APM Terminals Apapa to the northern part of the country.

“We are also in serious discussions with APMT and from next month our target is to be running three trains a week between Lagos and Kano. That is in addition to what we are already carrying.

“We are also in discussion with all other operators like ENL and GDNL to see how we can best utilise their facilities but all these have to do with re-establishing confidence in the rail system,” Ali stated.

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