Euronav bewildered by Nigeria’s ban on seven of its VLCCs
EURONAV, owner of the world’s largest publicly listed crude tanker fleet, is perplexed as to why seven of its very large crude carriers are on the list of tankers banned from Nigerian ports issued by Nigerian National Petroleum Corp a week ago.
Euronext- and New York-listed Euronav, like other owners on the ban list, has been caught up in what is quickly becoming one the most mysterious developments in the tanker industry this year.
“We have no idea what this is or what it is about,” Euronav chief executive Paddy Rodgers told Lloyd’s List on Thursday.
Multiple calls to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation went unanswered in recent days.
The NNPC London office on Wednesday said it had not been given any information regarding the ban from head office. “We have been trying to establish details with head office, but so far we have had no response.”
Short of any explanation for the ban by NNPC in Nigeria, experts have come up with explanations ranging from unpaid fees and issues with tanker hulls.
Intertanko, the independent tanker owners association, told Lloyd’s List on Wednesday the tankers may have been targeted due to a failure to provide official outturn figures at their last call and/or commercial differences between load and discharge figures for cargo and free water.
An Intertanko spokesman added that it may also be part of a general crackdown by president Buhari on corruption in Nigeria’s maritime, oil and gas, financial services and security sectors, including illegal bunkering and fuel sales.
A particularly confusing element is that some of the vessels on the ban list are not frequent callers into Nigeria.
“We have only called to Nigeria on VLCCs twice this year,” said Mr Rodgers. “Some of the vessels have never called in Nigeria.”
Euronav is among the owners most exposed to the ban, with seven VLCCs on the list: Hakata, Neptun, Sara, Naurilus, Alsace, Sonia and TI Topaz.
Greece’s Angelicoussis Group also has seven VLCCs on the list, China VLCC has 10, and National Iranian Tanker Co has seven.
With a total fleet of around 60 crude tankers, Euronav’s exposure to the ban equates to around 10% of its total fleet.
Intertanko has taken up the issue with the Nigerian government, hoping for a swift resolution.
Thus far, West African spot market freight rates for VLCCs have not been affected. In theory, spot rates could rise if a large chunk of the global VLCC fleet is not permitted to carry cargoes from Nigerian ports, because vessel availability will be limited for these journeys.
Source: lloyd’s list