SAA Made Maritime Investors Return to Nigeria, Says Okunbor
- Says OMSL stopped insecurity on waterways
Chairman of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL), Capt Hosa Okunbor, has stated that prior to the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) contract, maritime investors were avoiding Nigeria, adding that SAA brought safety to the country’s maritime territory.
He also said the sudden stoppage of the contract by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), without regards to OMLS’s investment, was not only embarrassing to his person, but also capable of taking Nigeria back to pre-SAA days.
A statement made available to THISDAY yesterday stated that Okunbor made this revelation in Abuja during an investigative hearing by the Joint Committee on Navy, Marine Transport and Finance.
His view, the statement noted, was widely shared by industry experts, who said NPA’s action could expose the waterways to insecurity, thereby resulting in huge economic loss in the maritime sector.
According to the statement, “OMSL started in 2007 at the height of militancy where this country would have been producing less than 300barrels per day. Late Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, who was the first chairman of OMSL and former Chief of Naval Staff, was the one who came up with this idea.
“At this time, it was just an intervention and we wrote to the Navy in 2007; we started this business with only three vessels because it was pertinent to open mistras which was short in 70,000 per day. Shells EA field and Adax were attacked on a daily bases, as shell was going to close the whole of their eastern production.
“There were numerous challenges on our waters, so we came in to intervene for the sake of national interest because then which Nigerian businessman would procure a vessel over $3million to $4million or $6million and hand it over to the Navy completely without insurance in Ramsay to defend this country? We took the risk, which nobody was ready to.”
Okunbor added that: “Before the OMSL strategy, the Nigerian navy officials were put on top vessels and boat, and when the pirates attacked, they killed a lot of officers until we came on board to find the solution that I am talking about. We started with the Mistras, which became a success story, and Adax and Shell came to us. Shell EA was restored; production was restored to 200,000 barrels per day that was how we were able to build capacity and develop the capacity we are talking about.”