By OBAFEMI OREDEIN
IBADAN, Nigeria -- Nigeria's maritime regulator has agreed to
immediately lift the blockade of ships belonging to Nigeria LNG
Ltd., or NLNG, after the company agreed to pay various levies
that the regulator claimed were overdue, the company confirmed
NLNG spokeswoman Kudo Eresia-Eke said in a statement that
NLNG agreed to pay the Nigerian Maritime Administration and
Safety Agency a total of $140 million to cover arrears in these
The company had earlier made an initial payment of $20
million, she said.
She said the levies were being paid "under protest" as they
become due pending a judicial ruling on whether these payments
are justified and can be obtained.
The regulator on June 21 barred NLNG
ships from entering or departing Bonny Island Terminal on the
coast of Nigeria, according to the company, as a longstanding
dispute over maritime taxes and levies escalated.
Ms. Eresia-Eke said the blockade, which caused production to
cease "in spite of a court order," has resulted in a loss of
more than $475 million in revenue by the company.
"We feel we have no other option than to now make these
payments under protest," NLNG
managing director Babs Omotowa said, adding "in doing this, we
have taken into account the overriding national interest; in
particular to stem the huge financial and reputation loss the
country has suffered as a reliable LNG supplier, a destination
for foreign investment and a nation of the rule of law."
Mr. Omotowa said NLNG "as a law abiding company" has always
paid its taxes, including those due after a 10-year tax holiday
ended in 2009.
NLNG on July 1 said it had declared force majeure on its
gas exports, effective from June 28, due to the blockade.
Force majeure is declared when a company is unable to fulfill
its contractual obligations to deliver exports due to
circumstance beyond its control.
is a joint venture between Nigeria's state oil company, Royal
Dutch Shell, France's Total and Italy's Eni.
Dow Jones Newswires