Nigeria loses $7bn oil bunkering investment to Ghana, others

Citing bureaucratic bottlenecks, Nigeria has lost about $7 billion investment in the oil bunkering sub- sector to some countries in West Africa, including Ghana, Benin Republic and some others.

A Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) document sighted by Daily Sun detailed how delays in regulatory approvals denied the country an estimated $7 billion investment inflow and thousands of jobs opportunities that could have emanated from the transactions.

Contrary to the widespread believe belief that bunkering connotes illegality, bunkering is a legal business which is the supply of fuel for use by ships, and includes the shipboard logistics of loading fuel and distributing it among available bunker tanks.

Though there have been reported cases of those involved in illegal bunkering arrested by Navy, DSS, Police and other security agencies in the past.

A source in DPR who preferred not to be named confirmed to Daily Sun that over 70 per cent of vessels  that enter the country prefer to fuel in other neighboring countries where the process is seamless as against doing so in Nigeria.

He described the development as an anomaly considering that Nigeria has the quality of fuel required by the ships, stressing that what makes other countries a preferred destination of choice should be what government should unravel and make attempts to reverse.

‘‘Bunkering is legitimate business. We have looked inward and discovered that bureaucratic bottlenecks among inter-government agencies remained a major factor responsible for this loss of revenue. And that has discouraged investment in that sector.

Refueling of vessels should be a seamless venture that should not take ages because the more a vessel stays it accrue demurrage and other charges by Government agencies. Every business wants to maximise profit by not incurring additional expenses.’’

The source said, there was no way the country would not make about $1 billion as revenue from the $7 billion investment. He said there was an attempt in the past to review the policies around bunkering business but such was done in a wrong manner and it created a setback that led to where the bunkering sector is at the moment.

He said the  Department was now working on a new regulatory regime to make the sector more investor friendly by carrying along all stakeholders in order for the country to maximize the benefits inherent in that sub-sector.

‘‘We are trying to avoid the mistakes of the past and that is why we are taking out time so that we don’t fall into the pitfalls of the past. But very soon, a soon framework for that sub-sector will be unveiled very soon.’

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