LAGOS (AFP) – A Nigerian agency that has blockaded liquefied natural gas exports for three weeks, costing $475 million in revenue, agreed Friday to end its action after resolving a fees dispute, the company said.
Nigeria LNG Limited said it had decided under protest to pay $140 million in the dispute over levies claimed by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, known by its acronym NIMASA.
That amount is in addition to an earlier $20 million paid under protest.
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.
"In addition, NLNG has agreed to pay, again under protest, the levies as they become due until a judicial ruling on whether these payments are justified can be obtained," NLNG said in a statement.
The company maintains it is exempt from such levies under a law setting out conditions for Nigeria's LNG industry.
The agency had continued to block shipments from the facility in southern Nigeria which provides some seven percent of global LNG supply despite court rulings ordering it to end the action, NLNG said.
A NIMASA spokesman did not return calls for comment.
Asked whether the agency would now lift the blockade, NLNG spokesman Kudo Eresia-Eke told AFP "that was what was agreed."
"Owing to the NIMASA blockade which persisted in spite of court orders, the company has lost revenues of over 76 billion naira ($475 million), 65 percent of which belongs to the federal government, which has thus lost about 50 billion naira in dividends, taxes, etc.," NLNG said in a statement.
According to NLNG, the blockade that began on June 21 also cut into cooking gas supplies in Nigeria because the facility produces liquefied petroleum gas as a byproduct.
According to local media reports, NIMASA has contracted with a security firm linked to a prominent ex-militant from the country's oil-producing Niger Delta region. The security firm, Global West, was named in court documents seeking an end to the blockade.
Nigeria exported some 19.6 million metric tons of LNG in 2012, 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.