A dispute over towing services could jeopardize Total’s Egina project offshore Nigeria with a government agency threatening to prohibit the FPSO unit from entering its waters.

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) insists that the country’s law gives it sole authority over towing and piloting, which conflicts with a multimillion-dollar contract that Total has signed. The company’s Egina FPSO vessel left its shipyard in South Korea on Oct. 31 and was expected to arrive in Nigerian waters during the second week of January.

The ship is scheduled for integration of its six topsides at Tarkwa Bay in Lagos, Nigeria. Failing to reach an agreement with the NPA would reduce Nigerian content in the project and erode confidence about its viability.

Total, operator of the Egina Field, and FPSO contractors Ladol/Samsung are reportedly negotiating with and lobbying the government.

“All hands are on deck to ensure that the matter is resolved before the FPSO arrives,” a representative of Ladol/Samsung told The Guardian newspaper.

The Egina FPSO vessel has a storage capacity of 2.2 MMbbl of crude oil and a production capacity of 108,000 bbl/d. It can accommodate a crew of 200.

The field is expected to add 200,000 bbl/d to Nigeria’s output and is scheduled to come onstream in 2018 although the dispute could delay first oil.

Abdullahi Goje, NPA’s general manager for corporate and strategic communications, told The Guardian that he was optimistic for a solution but would not back down if one cannot be found.

“Notice has already been given to promoters of the FPSO [unit] to the effect that the vessel would not be granted access to Nigeria’s waterways,” he said. “The NPA would pursue legal remedies in its determination to ensure that no organization impedes on the mandate of the NPA as provided in Part II of the Port Act.”

—Joseph Markman