There would be few limits to the economic potential of Nigeria’s ports on the Gulf of Guinea if only piracy and the illegal trade in petroleum products for shipping could be capped. The government of Nigeria has expressed its interest in the establishment of a legitimate marine fuel supply sector; recognising that gaining the confidence of the global shipping market would bring substantial growth and development to the country.

SABT, an African-based business operating in over 50 of the continent’s ports to provide reputable, professional fuel services to a wide range of sea-faring vessels, has recently announced its intention to establish long-term to service vessels in Nigerian waters. Using an indigenous approach that uniquely focusing on forging sustainable partnerships that empower small, local businesses, SABT taps into local knowledge around Africa’s coastline. By sharing expertise, building knowledge and providing financial backing, SABT has a track record of growing the marine fuel supply sector in the African countries where it operates. A rigid adherence to doing business by the rules, trading only in quality fuel products that meet the requirements of the international standards, as well as delivering on time have all gained SABT a reputation for the integrity that will help to stabilise and transform an industry that is currently fraught with corruption and inefficiencies.

SABT Managing Director, Jon Hughes comments, “We’ve got an African solution to providing a reputable, professional marine fuel services that shows that shipping around the African coastline can be safe, efficient, competitive and profitable. It’s the African way to leverage local expertise, tap into the indigenous networks, build strong relationships and engage fully so that the benefits are widely experienced.”

Unlike many international industry players who sit far offshore and dabble occasionally in the fast opportunities that arise in African waters, SABT has focused on becoming an African specialist in marine fuel supply by establishing long-standing relationships with local operators and gaining first-hand experience of Africa’s ports. Their new venture into Nigeria opens up the possibilities of transferring skills and knowledge, and increasing financial gains for legitimate Nigerian businesses which are currently hampered by lack of resources and overwhelmed by the trade in poor quality black-market oil products.

It would be a significant sea-change for the global shipping operator to be able to have confidence in fuelling their vessels in Nigerian waters. Currently, even major ports such as Lagos are often avoided for fear of the risks of buying sub-standard fuel products sourced from the abundance of illegal Nigerian ‘teapot’ refineries that is not delivered on time. High risk, lack of quality and chronic unreliability drives up shipping costs, which ultimately hurts the pockets of Nigerian consumers and limits the country’s economic development. By contrast, to be able to safely, easily and cost-effectively fuel vessels opens up all sea-trade routes to and from Nigeria, positively impacting on multiple sectors of the economy.