Indigenous shipping companies under the aegis of Ship Owners Association, SOAN, have lamented the crippling effects of the decline in the prices of crude oil at the international market on the nationís economy and the impact on shipping business. The National President of the association, Engr. Greg Ogbefun, disclosed that more than 95 per cent of shipping activities that the Nigerian ship owners engage in revolve around the oil and gas activities, covering both upstream and downstream sectors. According to him, due to the overconcentration of shipping activities on oil and gas sector, the sharp decline in the price of crude oil naturally brought about a drastic reduction in the level of activities in both the upstream and downstream segments of the industry, thereby adversely affecting the shipping component.
He said: "Shipping activities in Nigeria have been restricted to the upstream and downstream segments of the oil and gas sector because the International Oil Companies are only ship charterers. So the dwindling fortunes of the industry occasioned by the decline in the crude oil price is currently taking its toll on the Nigerian ship owners and so we are operating on the skin of our bodies" "In the light of this fact, shipping activities in the country are still at a zero level because everything revolves around the oil and gas activities, therefore what affects the oil and gas activities affects the shipping activities, which is not good enough, especially given the huge size of the nationís market and also being an import- dependent country" he further lamented.
As a solution to this problem, advised that Nigerian ship owners must be proactive and consider the option of diversifying their operations, especially since the present government is also thinking about de-emphasizing oil and gas as the only revenue earner for the national economy by promoting non-oil exports. For instance, he suggested that the operators should begin to think of participating in container shipping business, particularly within the coastal and inland waters, which is also in tandem with the intent of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage policy. For instance, he suggested that Nigerian ship owners should begin to think in the direction of acquiring or going into bareboat charter of feeder vessels that would takeover containers and other bulk cargo brought into Lagos.
Source: National Mirror
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