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Nigeria LNG Told to Pay Maritime Levy After Government Ruling

Nigeria LNG Ltd. was directed to pay outstanding levies to the country’s maritime regulator after a state arbitration panel ruled the operator of Africa’s biggest liquefied natural gas export terminal isn’t exempt from taxes.

“The government has resolved in our favor,” Isichei Osamgbi, a spokesman for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, or Nimasa, said today by phone from the capital Abuja. “We’re already meeting with Nigeria LNG to sort out modalities for settling the outstanding levies.”

Payments were backdated to 2007, according to Nimasa, which blockaded Nigeria LNG’s Bonny Island loading bay on May 3, forcing it to halt exports before they resumed on May 5 after a government intervention. It didn’t say how much was due.

The law that set up Nigeria LNG exempted the company from paying taxes for 10 years or until the cumulative price of liquefied natural gas reached $3 for a million British thermal units. Nimasa said this tax break expired in January 2004 after gas prices reached $9 a million British thermal unit on Nymex.

The Bonny Island plant is able to produce 21.7 million metric tons of chilled gas a year, or about 8 percent of the world’s total, according to data from the International Group of LNG Importers. It supplied 12 percent of the world’s LNG for near-term delivery in 2011, according to the group.

Nigeria LNG has long-term contracts with buyers in Spain, Italy, France and Turkey, exporting 333 cargoes in 2012, the most since sales began in 1999, according to its website.

State-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. is the biggest investor, with a 49 percent stake. Units of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA and Eni SpA respectively hold 26 percent, 15 percent and 10 percent.

Nigeria LNG could not be immediately reached for comment outside normal working hours.

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