NLNG’s Cooking Gas Vessel Stranded as Customs Detains Petrol Vessel

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A vessel laden with Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), better known as cooking gas brought into Lagos by the Nigeria LNG Limited from the Bonny Island plant of the company was stranded at Apapa Jetty in Lagos up till the weekend, due to lack of berthing space, THISDAY has learnt.

THISDAY gathered that a berthing space at the North Oil Jetty (NOJ) at Apapa was occupied by a vessel that imported petrol for Forte Oil Plc, which was detained by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) after it had discharged product for the major marketer.

While some sources told THISDAY that NCS detained the vessel for alleged lack of evidence of payment of duties on imported petrol, other sources argued that duties are not paid on petrol but deregulated products such as diesel and base oil.

However, a source at Forte Oil told THISDAY that his company’s contract with the vessel elapsed before the incident as the vessel had discharged its product for the major marketer.

“The information we have was that the vessel was ‘court-marshalled’ after it had discharged our product because of allegation of non-payment of duties. So, we were not connected with the incident,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

The detention of the petrol vessel, ‘MT Histria Ivory,’ it was learnt, caused panic for cooking gas marketers as major gas plants had exhausted their product and were waiting for the cooking gas vessel, ‘MT Gaz Providence’ to berth and discharge product.

Investigation revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has three jetties that constitute the Apapa Jetty – Petroleum Wharf (PWA); BOP and NOJ – all used by vessels to discharge petroleum products.
However, it was learnt that only NOJ has facilities to discharge cooking gas and this has created logistics challenges for LPG vessels.

“Of all the berthing space in Apapa Jetty, NOJ is the most strategic because it is the dedicated berthing space for LPG, base oil and kerosene. Petrol vessels also berth at NOJ during period of fuel scarcity. But other jetties are used for berthing of only petrol vessels,” one LPG marketer told THISDAY at the weekend.

The marketer further stated that the absence of berthing space might force NLNG to divert the vessel to NAVGAS Jetty at Apapa, which is a private facility.

“NLNG will not like to incur huge demurrage. So, it might take the vessel back to Bonny or divert it to NAVGAS Jetty. If it is taken back to Bonny, it will take up three weeks for the offtakers of LPG appointed by NLNG to get supply of LPG and this will cause scarcity. If the vessel is diverted to NAVGAS, only the company will take the product and this may cause monopoly in the market. However, if the detained vessel is released and it berths at NOJ, all the offtakers will take product from the vessel,” the marketer explained.

Logistics challenge hampers LPG business due to absence of jetties for vessels to berth and discharge product for the marketers.

Apart from NNPC’s jetty, which also receives imported petrol vessels, the only other jetty available for imported LPG vessel is NAVGAS Jetty.