Senator Olamilekan Solomon Adeola representing Lagos West Senatorial district disclosed on Tuesday in Abuja, that he was offered a vessel to kill a petition brought against Total Upstream Nigeria Limited for deliberately flouting the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act.
A petition against Total Upstream was forwarded to Senate Committee on Local Content by the Indigenous Vessels Operators Association of Nigeria asking it to intervene in the cancellation of the bidding contract entered by the association members in 2014.
The Solicitor, Barr Bassey Offiong had told the senate that, “it all began in 2014 when Total Upstream Nigeria Limited, a joint venture partner with the Nigerian Government in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry published a tender with reference no. NTD 0001632 for the provision of Platform Support Vessels (PSV) and Terminal Support Vessels (TSV) by Indigenous vessels operators.
‘’The bid process which had the participation of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS),NNPC and the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB)attracted bids from a variety of Nigerian owned ships and vessels operators.
‘’The biding process duly complied with the provisions of all extant laws such as the procurement Act and the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act. This bid also underwent all the stages of the process remaining only the award to the deserving winners.
Offiong reported to the senate that the Total Upstream Nigeria Limited had resorted to steps to frustrate the ongoing process and short change local participation by offering to restart another bid process which is against the letter and spirit of the local content Act.
‘’Noteworthy is the fact that the unjustifiably stalled bid process had a contract validity of 12 tears which gives local vessels operators ample opportunities and the benefit of long term planning with increased capacity’’
Offiong averred that under the proposed new bid Total Ltd is seeking NAPIMS approval to carry out, the proposed tenure of the contract is one year with the option of another one year extension.
‘’This will only benefit established and most likely foreign owned vessels participation to the detriment of local vessels operators’’
The lawyer said his clients have incurred huge expenses, mostly made up with bank loans obtained to procure vessels, training of local manpower in maritime operations and sundry financial commitment to third parties.
‘’To scuttle the bid exercise will have negative reverberations within the nation’s economy. The earlier bid process beyond its transparency, adhered to all the industry regulations for such Call for Tender (CFT) for indigenous vessels and tug operators
‘’The completion of the existing bid process will be a major milestone for the Federal Government in its quest to encourage the participation of indigenous vessels owners in the upstream sector of the nation’s oil industry which has been the exclusive preserve of foreign owned vessels.
While responding to the call of the petitioners for the senate committee to investigate the matter to determine the overall propriety, whether there are interests other than national interest at play, Senator Adeola said he is aware that there are forces trying to scuttle the contract validly entered into between the Total Upstream Nigeria Limited and members of the Indigenous Vessels Operators Association of Nigeria.
”They offered me a vessel to abort this senate committee of local content’s probe and I refused. We have received ample information to take decision or resolve this matter, but for the sake of the principle of fair hearing, it’s the very reasons we want to hear from the representatives of the Total Upstream Nigeria Limited, NAPIMS and other stakeholders involved in this case.’’
The committee consequently directed that the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) to give National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) a waiver in order to allow the 10 indigenous vessel owners who bided initially and adjudged pre-qualified to bid again.