Nigeria: NIMASA Blocks NLNG Vessels in Bonny Channel
On Friday 21st June, two Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) boats, with 15 naval officers on board, ordered that one NLNG vessel, LNG Imo, and one chartered vessel, Torm Thames, remain at NLNG’s loading bay, whilst another NLNG Vessel, LNG Oyo, remains outside the Bonny Channel until further notice.
NIMASA subsequently issued Ship Detention Orders on 22nd June 2013, specifically detaining three NLNG ships (LNG Enugu, LNG Oyo, LNG Imo) and barring them from accessing or leaving the company’s loading bay.
These developments are in flagrant disregard of the court injunction issued by the Federal High Court in Lagos in Suit No FHC/L/CS/847/2013 by Honorable Justice M.B. Idris, presiding, on Tuesday 18th June 2013, against the Attorney General of the Federation, Global West, and any other parties including Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, 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 in a astatement.
It will be recalled that on 3rd May 2013, NIMASA blocked the Bonny Channel preventing entry and exit of NLNG vessels. This led to a series of meetings at the instance of the Federal Government which eventually ordered that the company should pay NIMASA its purported levies.
In deference to the Government, NLNG made a payment, under protest, in the sum of US$20 million (approximately N3.2 billion) into NIMASA’s designated account and subsequently approached the court to seek proper judicial clarity and a lasting resolution to the conflict between the NLNG Act and NIMASA Act.
The potential implications of this current action by NIMASA on NLNG operations are enormous and would impact negatively on its international LNG Buyers, the international financial market, Nigeria to which NLNG contributes 4 % of the country’s GDP, its Shareholders and the investment climate in Nigeria, let alone the reputational impact this may have on Nigeria’s image within the international investment community.
NLNG is owned by four shareholders, namely, the Federal Government of Nigeria, represented by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC (49%), Shell Gas BV, SGBV, (25.6%), Total LNG Nigeria Limited (15%), and Eni International (N.A,) N. V. S. a. r. l (10.4%).