Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) has agreed to pay the sum of $140 million in disputed levies to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to end a three-week blockade of shipments from its export terminal.
NIMASA “will immediately revoke the detention order on vessels and release them” on the payment of the fees, according to the terms of a settlement presented on Friday to Judge Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos.
“We feel we have no other option than to now make these payments under protest,” Nigeria LNG Managing Director Babs Omotowa said today in an e-mailed statement. The company lost more than $475 million since NIMASA detained its ships on June 22 and blocked exports, he said.
Nigeria LNG on June 28 declared force majeure, a legal clause allowing it to miss shipments, as the blockade lingered and more than 20 LNG tankers moored outside the Bonny Island loading bay.
The company, majority-owned by the government, disagrees with NIMASA’s interpretation of its tax obligations, citing exemptions in the law establishing it. The maritime agency said the tax breaks expired in 2004, leaving the gas producer owing arrears.