LAGOS (AFP) – A blockade on exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Nigeria has been lifted following a partial resolution of a tax dispute between the gas firm and the maritime agency, the company said Friday.
“As at today, the 6-Train NLNG Bonny complex finally reached its normal operating capacity such that export operations can be declared as being fully normalised,” the gas firm NLNG said in a statement.
“Consequently, the company has declared the current FM (Force Majeur) lifted to both buyers and gas suppliers,” it said.
The exports were halted since June 21 due to a dispute over fees and taxes, blocking ships at a facility producing some seven percent of global LNG supply.
The state-run Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) blocked ships at the Nigeria LNG (NLNG) terminal over the long-running dispute.
NLNG’s shareholders include Shell at 25.6 percent, state firm NNPC with 49 percent, Total LNG Nigeria at 15 percent and Eni at 10.4 percent.
During the blockade, the second this year, all incoming and outgoing gas cargo ships were stopped, the statement said.
NLNG said it made a $20 million initial payment under protest following a flare-up of the dispute in May while taking the matter to court which is scheduled to hear the case on September 19.
It did not say how much it has paid so far before the blockade of access to its Bonny terminal was lifted.
NLNG said it was directed to pay $159 million it allegedly owed NIMASA in unpaid levies and taxes between October 2009 and last May.
Nigeria exported some 19.6 million metric tonnes of LNG last year, the fourth-largest output worldwide, according to data compiled by research firm IHS. Qatar was first with 74.2 million metric tons.
LNG, which sees natural gas super-cooled and transformed into liquid for transport on tankers, has represented around nine percent of global gas demand, according to figures from the International Energy Agency. ade/boc