Liquefied natural gas export halted
By Yemi Adebowale
The Nigerian Maritime Admi-nistration and Safety Agency Friday morning stopped the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company from exporting gas from its facilities in Bonny, Rivers State by blocking all access to the Bonny channels, in Rivers State.
The blockade, NIMASA said, was aimed at preventing all vessels lifting gas on behalf of the NLNG from gaining access to the NLNG facilities on the island.
NIMASA in the statement Friday said the blockade was necessitated by the failure of the NLNG management to pay huge outstanding statutory levies to the agency.
The agency in a statement titled “Getting The NLNG to Meet Its Responsibilities” and signed by Captain Warredi Enusuoh, its Acting Director, Shipping Development said: “Today, at about 11:30hr, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency using GlobalWest vessels Specialist platform blocked off access to the Bonny channels from the fairway buoy at the beginning of the channel, to buoys 17 and 18. By this blockade, all Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company vessels operating in the area are neither permitted to leave nor enter the area until all statutory obligations are met.
“This course of action has been forced on the agency by the NLNG’s disregard and demonstrated unwillingness to abide by the country’s maritime laws, especially sections of the NIMASA Act that mandates payment of levies based on gross freight on exports and imports and the Cabotage Law. Since its inception, the NLNG has cherry-picked our laws. All efforts to get the management to meet its obligations to Nigeria have been met with impunity.
“While the NLNG is bruited as one of the crown jewels on the nation’s hydrocarbon industry, its habitual violation and the utter contempt for our laws are unbecoming of a company of its status. For the avoidance of doubt, our action is carefully planned to avoid loss of lives or damage to property. This ongoing blockade is limited to the NLNG vessels and other vessels lifting gas on its behalf.”
Captain Warredi Enusuoh in a telephone interview with THISDAY last night said the blockade would continue until all outstanding levies to NIMASA are paid by the NLNG management.
Said Enusuoh: “They (NLNG) are owing NIMASA a lot of money. We are talking about high figures here for shipping levies. We went there to enforce the same law we are enforcing in Lagos. NLNG has not paid a kobo since they started operating there. The NIMASA Act is very clear about what ships should pay and do. Our demands are with them. We have had correspondents with them over the issue.”
NLNG’s External Relations Manager, Gloria Ikpeme told THISDAY on phone yesterday night that the NLNG would need to get a clear idea of the issues raised by NIMASA before reacting.