Honourable Justice Babs Keuwumi of the Federal High Court, Lagos, in a landmark judgment delivered Friday, June 14, 2019 in a matter instituted by Seadrill Mobile Units Nigeria Limited against the Honourable Minister for Transportation and two others with suit No: FHC/L/CS/607/2016, initiated through an Originating Summons, held that drilling operations fall within the definition of ‘coastal trade’ under the Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act and that oil rigs fall within the definition of vessels under the Act.
The Plaintiff, Seadrill Mobile Units Nigeria Limited, had initiated the suit in reaction to the detention of its oil rig, The West Capella, by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, which had been detained upon the Plaintiff’s failure to register it as a vessel at the Ship Registry for cabotage operations.
‘Cabotage’ under section two of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage Act 2003.
trade and Cabotage under s two of the Act.
exploitation of minerals or non-living natural resources in Nigeria and that the nature and functions of The West Capella compulsorily required it to carry persons and goods in relation to its oil drilling operations, which fell within the definition of coastal trade or cabotage under section two of the acts.
It was also argued that The West Capella was a type of oil rig known as a drillship and that this fact ought to be taken into joint consideration with the provisions of the Admiralty Jurisdiction Act, NIMASA Act, and Merchant Shipping Act, which all contained provisions defining an oil rig as a ship.
as a ship.