By Captain Adewale Ishola
Submission: The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Ltd., is very much aware of what went wrong; there are laid down procedures to follow for checks to be carried out to note product quality and quantity. That procedure is still operational…so, who looked away and why?
In the course of duty while I was working on the coastal waters, , I lifted petroleum products for the NNPC. So, I know the procedure we followed, and that standard procedure is still there.
This development (when very dirty fuel was supplied) showed that there must be a gap somewhere. Usually, before you load petroleum products from the source, the ship carrying the cargo must produce what is called “the certificate of origin.” That will trace back to the particular tank or refinery the product is coming from. It must also come with a ‘certificate of quality’, which gives you all the specification of the fuel.
So, when the vessel is loaded that way, before being received on board, when all these certificates come on, there are surveyors who measure product quality and quantity received on board, together with the ship crew. The chief officer is the cargo officer on behalf of the captain. This surveyor takes samples from every tank it is loaded, for laboratory analysis. This is for them to compare with the certificate of quality and that of origin where the cargo was coming from. If it does not correspond, then you know that there is a problem somewhere.
That same thing happens when a vessel is in transit and when it arrives at a discharging port, like in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Onne or Warri. We follow the same procedure again; each tank is checked for quality and quantity, samples are taken again by another surveyor. You know it is a different surveyor at the loading port.
The surveyor at the loading port does not have to come to Nigeria, but the owner of the product here will engage a surveyor to go on board and measure the quality and quantity. So, they compare notes with what the vessel brought and the certificate the vessel brought with what they are receiving. Therefore, if there is an issue, they would not receive that cargo, they will not even discharge it; it is called off-spec; it is bellow specification.
So, something has happened somewhere; why should somebody now discharge off-spec cargo? Not just one cargo, bout four different vessels.
The sole importer, the NNPC, should be responsible for this. The marketers are mere distributors. Though, they also go through the same procedure of checks; so many questions to answer, because they know the truth.
In civilized climes, they should have resigned, for bringing in such dangerous products that could cause a lot of havoc.
Captain Adewale Ishola is a master mariner and a former President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners.