Nigeria’s ban on 113 tankers from calling at its ports has been lifted by president Muhammadu Buhari, according to a letter circulated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), dated September 8.
The tankers that had previously been banned will now be able to call at Nigerian ports “subject to receipt of Letter of Comfort from all Terminal Operators and Off-takers of Nigerian Oil and Gas as guarantee that nominated vessels are free and will not be utilized for any illegal activity whatsoever”, Mele K Kyari, group general manager of NNPC’s crude oil marketing division, wrote in the letter.
Requests for vessel clearances and documentary instructions must be accompanied by a Letter of Comfort as assurance that tankers will not engage in “illegal activity”, Kyari wrote.
Stephen Askins, partner at London-based law firm Tatham Macinnes, told Splash the letter looked genuine and “should be taken at face value”.
Earlier this month, Nigeria’s chief of naval staff (CNS), Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, warned shipowners they would be punished as “saboteurs” if found to be participating in oil theft.
The ban was imposed on July 15 by state-owned NNPC, following a directive from Nigeria’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari.