The problem of drydocking about 1,200 vessels calling at Nigerian ports this year as Europe, Mediterranean and Black Sea yards have been fully booked into Q3’22.
According to reports, of the 4,000 vessels calling at the various ports in the country every year, about 1,200 of them do their dry docking overseas due to lack of shipyard in Nigeria. Presently, the country has no shipyard that can dry dock bigger ships of 30,000 tonnes after Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) closed its subsidiary, Continental Shipyard Limited (CSL), as its company’s floating dock was grounded since 2010.
Similarly, the company finally closed its business activities in 2021 at the Apapa dockyard. Findings revealed that the United States had about 500 ship building and repair yards, Europe, 200 ship building and repair yards, China, 80 ship yards, South Korea and Singapore have 30 ship building and repair yards each.
It was gathered that following the China lockdown to carry out essential upgrades, repairs and dry dockings of vessels, ship repair yards in Europe, Mediterranean and Black Sea had been fully booked into Q3’22, while yards in the Middle East and across Asia are also taking in more business, leading to substantial backlog.
The backlog in repair activity comes as International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s regulations had mandated ship owners to fit all sorts of equipment in their ships in order to control ballast water and emissions. Some ships have been forced to stay in yard far longer than expected, while some ships are doting Nigerian waters because of lack of fund to tow them to foreign shipyards.
In the meantime, IMO has said that every vessel must do dry-docking once every three years to enable them retain their safety classification and insurance cover.
However, Nigerian ship owners said that it costs between $300,000 and $500,000 to dry-dock a vessel, while it costs between $1.5 million and $1.8 million to tow a vessel to Singapore or other destinations for dry docking.
They noted that some ships had been grounded due to inability of their owners to secure foreign exchange at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s official window for repairs in other countries.
Recall that a former President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Greg Ogbeifun, once said the country needs higher capacity ship repair yards to curb capital flight. He noted that ship building was relatively non-existent in the country.
Ogbeifun noted that a lot of jobs and revenue were lost when vessels leave the country for dry-docking facilities elsewhere. He said: “These jobs would have been created in Nigeria if there were operational ship repair yards in the country.
Dry docking of vessels outside the country hinders the country’s opportunities for skill and technology transfer. The continuation of this practice means that Nigeria will never improve its capacity to repair vessels, which in turn diminishes the possibility of shipbuilding in the country.
Eighty per cent of the vessels leave the country to carry out their docking repairs.” Ogbeifun, who is also the chief executive officer, Starzs Shipyard Limited, lamented in Lagos that there was no shipyard in the coun- try that could take a 30,000 tonnes oil tanker.