Don't Miss

Why we detained NLNG vessels – NIMASA

By on June 27, 2013

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said that it detained the three vessels belonging to the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) due to its failure to pay levies due to and its lack of respect for the Nigerian government.

Speaking with Vanguard on the issue, a NIMASA official who does not want his name in print explained that the detention, was made on Saturday.

He explained that contrary to claims by NLNG that NIMASA is lawless, it is the officials of NLNG that are lawless, because despite the intervention of government and the directive to settle out of court, NLNG seemed to have ignored the directive.

A statement signed by the Deputy Director, Public Affairs, NIMASA, Isichei Osamgbi, read in part, “The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has today in its enforcement of Nigerian laws, served detention notices/orders on vessels belonging to/chartered by the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company Limited (NLNG).

“This course of action was forced on NIMASA by the NLNG’s subsequent refusal or/and failure to abide by the outcome of the negotiated settlement arrived at through the mediation process it willingly instigated and subscribed to after reaching agreement with NIMASA on its outstanding debt and paying $20m out of it and its continued flagrant disregard for Nigerian laws.

“Contrary to NLNG’s position, NIMASA is not aware of any court order against it or any suit brought by NLNG against NIMASA.

“By its action, the NLNG has trivialised the mediation process and the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria whose Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation owns and holds 49 per cent of the shares in NLNG and which endorsed the agreement reached that NLNG should pay its taxes/levies and observe all its obligations under the laws of Nigeria in which it is operating.”

A statement by Kudo Eresia-Eke, spokesperson for NLNG, had described the action as a flagrant disregard for court order, stating that LNG Enugu, LNG Oyo and LNG Imo, were barred from accessing or leaving the company’s loading bay.

“The potential implications of this current action by NIMASA on Nigeria LNG operations are enormous and would impact negatively on its international customers,” she said.

NLNG said it paid about N3.2 billion in outstanding levies to NIMASA under protest and filed a suit on June 18 against the agency to seek judicial clarity and interpretation on the legality of the levies. NLNG was directed on May 18 to pay outstanding levies to NIMASA after a state arbitration panel ruled the NLNG was not exempted from taxes.

NIMASA barricaded Nigeria LNG’s Bonny Island loading bay May 3, forcing it to halt exports before they resumed on May 5 after government intervention.