NLNG exports delayed for fourth day over tax disputes

NLNG Gas Ship25 June 2013, Lagos – Exports of Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG, from Nigeria’s LNG plant located on Bonny Island, Rivers State, were delayed for the fourth day after the state-run maritime security agency blocked ships from accessing the Bonny terminal over disputes on freight levies, Nigeria LNG Ltd said.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has barred ships from entering or leaving the NLNG loading bay since June 21. On June 22 it also issued ship detention orders specifically detaining three NLNG vessels, the LNG Enugu, the LNG Oyo and the LNG Imo, a statement released by NLNG said.

NIMASA previously blockaded the NLNG loading bay on May 3, the dispute arising from NIMASA claiming that NLNG had not paid port levies. A court order was issue on June 18 preventing NIMASA from blockading the port while negotiations to resolve the matter were in progress.

NLNG was reported to have provided a photograph it said was shot on Monday showing one of the LNG vessels still anchored at the loading bay with a NIMSA patrol boat watching over it.

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“These developments are in flagrant disregard of the court injunction issued by the Federal High Court in Lagos [against NIMASA] from imposing any charges or taking any steps to block, detain or prevent access by the company’s owned or chartered vessels, whether inbound or outbound from Bonny channel or elsewhere in Nigeria,” NLNG said.

NLNG on June 12 lifted a force majeure on gas exports from the 22 million tonnes-a-year terminal since May 17 following reduction in gas supply from Shell.

While a force majeure on deliveries from the project has yet to be renewed, an NLNG spokesperson said: “Sooner or later, the tanks will be full, and force majeure would be the inevitable result.”

NLNG said that while it had gone to court over the freight dispute, it paid a $20 million freight levy to NIMSA as directed by the Nigerian government.

NIMSA spokesman Isichei Osamgbi confirmed yesterday the receipt of NLNG’s $20 million, but said the money was part payment of the total sum the gas company owed.

NLNG is owned jointly by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (49%), Shell (25.6%), Total LNG (15%) and Eni (10.4%).

The company exports about 330 cargoes a year from Bonny LNG, accounting for 7% of global Liquefied Natural Gas.

– Vanguard

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