INTELS Nigeria Limited, a major concessionaire operating at the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone in Rivers State has cleared the air on its alleged monopoly status in the area. The General Manager, Legal Department of INTELS; Mike Epelle while briefing journalists in Onne said that during the port’s concession exercise, terminal operators were approved based on different kinds of cargo they were to handle.
He added that there was a subsisting Federal High Court judgment directing all oil and gas cargoes be moved through Onne Free Trade Zone.
Epelle said the company as terminal operator has been investing in the Onne Free Zone for the past 30 years.
“Everybody who participated in the concession exercise was aware that the government of Nigeria classified the ports into different categories, depending on the type of cargo you will handle. This was why certain fees that were paid at the time for oil and gas was even higher than other terminals.
”In 2014, the Federal High Court gave a judgment in a matter which was between Associated Maritime Services (AMS) and another company in which it declared that both the BPE and the NPA have powers to designate the ports and terminals in Nigeria into various categories that exists today and pronounced that all oil and gas cargoes should be handled in the oil and gas denominated terminals, so the directive of the NPA is coming rather too late in the day”
“There was no appeal against that judgment of the court, and we all know that as long as the court judgment is subsisting and not overturned, it has to be obeyed” the INTELS legal manager said.
He reiterated that the circular issued by NPA ordering the diversion of all cargoes to ports in the South South region of Warri, Onne and Calabar ports did not mention INTELS Nigeria Limited, though he acknowledged that the company was given concessions at the three ports.
He recalled that there are 190 companies operating within the Onne Oil and Gas free zone and that it was because of the pioneering effort of INTELS in developing facilities and providing services that has made the area conducive for other investors to come in.
Recall that President Goodluck Jonathan’s recently directed that all oil and gas related cargoes be imported through the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone, a development that angered the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) that threatened to advise importers to divert their cargoes to Cotonou port, if the monopoly given to INTELS by the Federal Government is not withdrawn.
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