Nigerian Court Again Orders End to Blockade of LNG Ships

nigeria lng terminal shell
File photo: A ship berths near the Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas company (NLNG) in Bonny March 22, 2013. Image (c) REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

reuters logoLAGOS, July 8 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s federal court in Lagos reiterated an order for the maritime security agency to end a blockade of Nigeria’s liquefied natural gas company (NLNG) ships that is costing an estimated $22 million a day, a lawyer said.

Justice M.B. Idris rejected an application against the ruling, lawyer for NLNG Tola Oshobi told Reuters outside the court, after the fresh ruling against the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Global West, a security company contracted to enforce the blockade.

Since June 21 NIMASA has barred LNG cargoes from entering or leaving the loading bay at the Bonny terminal in the Niger Delta because it says NLNG is not paying a 3 percent levy, from which the NLNG argues it is exempt.

“The court has refused the application of the defendant and the order barring NIMASA and Global West from interfering in the operations of LNG stays,” Oshobi said.

It is unclear what difference the court ruling will make, since NIMASA and Global West, a private security company run by a former Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpumopolo, nicknamed “Tompolo”, ignored the last one issued in June.

Neither was immediately available for comment.

LNG accounted for 9 percent of Nigeria’s exports in 2012, according to one economist, or $8.1 billion, so the blockade is costing Nigeria $22 million a day in gas exports.

NLNG declared force majeure on gas exports on June 28 because of the blockade.

Nigeria’s state oil firm owns 49 percent of NLNG with Shell holding 25.6 percent, Total 15 percent and Eni 10.4 percent. (Reporting by Mayowa Oludare; writing by Tim Cocks; editing by James Jukwey)

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