Nigeria: Blacklisting of Tankers by NNPC
Ban on loading & movement in Nigerian waters
Recent press reports have stated that 113 named crude carriers have been blacklisted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
A memo from a senior officer of the NNPC addressed to the Nigerian terminal operators states that listed ships are banned from loading at any terminal within Nigerian territorial waters. Furthermore, those ships are also banned from movements within Nigerian territorial waters. (See attached PDF copy of memo)
The memo does not appear to be published on the NNPC website and the reasons for the blacklisting and how it is to be implemented remain unknown.
War risks cover
Members should be aware that contravening such a banning order may not be covered by the Club’s terms of war risks insurance. Action taken by the Nigerian authorities for breaching this banning order against a Member’s ship may be considered the operation of ordinary judicial process as described in Rule 4.E.7 – Ordinary Judicial Process.
INTERTANKO has written formally to the NNPC calling for the ban to be rescinded until it can give grounds, with supporting evidence, for it to be applied to any individual tanker.
That letter also seeks guidance from the NNPC on the grounds for making this ban; whether more ships may be anticipated being added to this list and what criteria may be used to include them; and what actions a shipowner needs to undertake to remove his ship from this list.
INTERTANKO are awaiting a response from the NNPC.
Charterparties and other legal and operational advice
Both INTERTANKO and law firm Tatham Macinnes have published advice to owners who may be affected by this ban.
A notice to INTERTANKO members of 24th July advises them to strongly resist charterers attempts to include warranties requiring shipowners to warrant that their ships are not subject to any Nigerian bans or restrictions.
The ban may be in response to discrepancies on outturn figures for Nigerian crude export cargoes. A best practice guideline for tankers scheduled to load in Nigeria is detailed in the Intertanko advisory which can be found via this link.
Lawyer Stephen Askins of Tatham Macinnes has published an article on at this blacklisting and raises some of the potential legal implications for vessels calling at Nigeria. The article can be found via this link
The article addresses issues such as the enforcement of the ban at offshore terminals outside territorial waters and key points in charterparties that direct owners to call at Nigerian ports in contravention of the ban including potential remedies for owners.
Owners who are not currently listed in the ban are recommended to consider reviewing their documentary evidence for previous cargoes loaded in Nigeria; to carefully monitor the loading process and associated documentation to guard against future threats of blacklisting; and consider incorporating terms in new charterparties allocating the risks associated with blacklisting (delays, extra expenses) to charterers.
Those owners whose ships do appear on the list are also provided with some common sense recommendations in addition to ensuring their ship does not transit Nigerian waters / exclusive economic zone (EEZ).