Presidency forces NIMASA to lift blockade on NLNG

Prompt intervention by the Presidency at the weekend compelled the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to lift the blockade it effected on access to the facilities of the Nigeria Liqueified Natural Gas Company (NLNG) last Friday over alleged unpaid levies.
SHIPS & PORTS DAILY was informed that relief came for the NLNG, following the intervention of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd); the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke; and Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, who jointly prevailed on NIMASA to lift the blockade which had cut off vital channels of gas exports and imports by NLNG.
In a press statement signed by the Acting Director, Shipping Development, Capt. Warredi Enisuoh, NIMASA had announced its decision to block gas imports and exports by NLNG over alleged failure of the gas company to pay stipulated levies.
Enisuoh had been emphatic that the blockade of the NLNG vessels, effected by NIMASA through the platforms of its private security contractor, Global West Vessel Specialist, would not be lifted until the nation’s apex maritime regulatory was satisfied that the gas company had fulfilled its statutory obligations to Nigeria.

Not to be outdone in the media space, the NLNG had stated that Nigeria’s LNG exports have been delayed after the NIMASA blockade prevented ships from accessing the 22 million tonnes-a-year Bonny terminal from last Friday to Sunday.
“Nigeria LNG is a law-abiding corporate citizen and pays all its lawful dues and taxes … NLNG’s position had been that it was exempted from the levies,” the NLNG said in a statement.
Access was denied from 1600 GMT on Friday until an unspecified time on Sunday, according to NLNG.
It was gathered that a ship loaded with LNG was prevented from exiting the terminal during the blockade, while two vessels for loading could not enter.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) owns 49 per cent of the NLNG, with Shell holding 25.6 per cent, Total 15 per cent and Eni 10.4 per cent.
Nigeria ships over 250 cargoes of LNG a year, contributing around seven per cent of global supply and accounting for four per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in Africa’s second largest economy, according to the NLNG.
Buyers of Nigeria’s LNG include Spain’s Repsol, Italy’s Enel, Britain’s BG Group France’s GDF Suez and Portugal’s Galp.
The NLNG lifted a force majeure – a clause freeing the company from supply obligations due to circumstances outside its control – on exports two weeks ago, initially imposed because of a ruptured pipeline to a Shell gas field.

NIMASA claimed that “this course of action had been forced on the agency by NLNG’s disregard and unwillingness to abide by the country’s maritime laws, especially sections of the NIMASA Act that mandate payment of levies based on gross freight on exports and imports.”
However, following a parley brokered by very worried members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), NIMASA, it was gathered, Sunday made a volte-face, allowing the NLNG to continue with its operations.
It was learnt that at the peace meeting top government officials allegedly pilliored the NLNG for avoiding the payment of appropriate taxes to relevant agencies of the government.
“They insisted at the meeting last night that the management of NLNG should sit down with NIMASA and work out appropriate mechanism to settle all outstanding issues,” a source said.
The Transport Minister, it was learnt, is billed to moderate further discussions between NIMASA and the NLNG in the days ahead.

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