Indigenous firm promises to recover Nigeria’s shipping industry from foreigners
An indigenous shipping firm, White Dove Shipping Limited, has promised to recover the Nigerian shipping industry from foreign dominance by effectively catering to the evacuation and export needs of local oil producers as well as providing employment to Nigerian seafarers.
The Chief Executive Officer of the firm, Chiemezie Ejinima, at a virtual media round table, said few indigenous shipping companies are operating in the country due to the capital-intensive nature of the shipping business, thereby giving opportunities to foreigners to dominate the industry.
According to him, while the marine industry is quite lucrative with different segments of shipping, the lack of funds to acquire equipment and vessels for indigenous players to operate, especially in the evacuation of crude oil, has given way to International Oil Companies (IOC) to dominate the trade, which has posed the danger of crude oil theft in the country.
Ejinima said these gaps led to the incorporation of the shipping firm in 2017 to help provide robust marine equipment spread for crude oil evacuation, storage, offloading, terminal services and general marine operations, especially for local manufacturers.
“We saw a lot of indigenous players having problems with their crude oil evacuation and so we came up with this strategy to evacuate their products by using vessels and tankers. We set up a one-stop shop for a full evacuation of crude oil from the point of production to export. We have a retinue of vessels from the storage vessel where the oil company produces into a host of shuttle vessels, which are basically medium range tankers that move that crude from the storage vessel to offshore and then to the terminal,” he explained.
According to him, while transportation of crude oil through pipelines poses many risks to communities and losses to the producers, the firm is helping the indigenous producers to ensure they adequately account for the exact amount of crude they produce after shipment.
“Currently we are able to take the capacity of 60, 000 barrels of crude oil per day, but we hope to have sufficient capacity to cater for more than 150, 000 barrels of crude oil per day.
“Our marine fleet has to increase extensively. Now we have one terminal, four floating storage and offloading (FSO) vessels and one Very large crude carrier (VLCC), our plan will be to increase to three VLCC to be able to take care of the terminal and export needs of Nigerian oil and gas companies.
He said with this, the firm is helping to eliminate opportunities for incidence of crude theft and that the impact will ensure the indigenous oil companies get value for their investment, while the government adequately gets returns that are due to them through royalties and taxations.
Ejinima also noted that the firm, with its capacity, is providing seatime and jobs to cadet and seafarers to bridge the knowledge gap between Nigerians and foreigners as well as eliminate unemployment of seamen.
According to him, the firm engages 90 per cent local workforce, adding that most of their vessels are manned by Nigerians to achieve close to 100 per cent indigenisation.
“Most of the foreign vessels and foreign-owned companies prefer to bring in their staff, but our philosophy is to develop Nigerians and that is what we are doing,” he stated.
Speaking on challenges affecting the industry, Ejinima said the 100 per cent rise in energy cost, especially marine gas oil has increased operational expenses, noting that this will not deter the firm from providing adequate services to its clients in the upstream oil and gas industry.