Malabu Oil: Criminal Trial To Begin June 8, 2017

Arik Air Takeover: Court Fixes May 15 For RulingAn Abuja High Court presided over by Justice Danlami Senchi, has fixed June 8, 2017 for the commencement of criminal trial against Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited and others.

The others involved include: Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, ENI SPA, former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dan Etete and former Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Mohammed Adoke.

Also joined in the case filed by the Federal Government are: Aliyu Abubakar, Ralph Wetzels, Casula Roberto, Pujatti Stefeno, Burrafato Sebastiano and Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

In the three-count charge preferred against the 11 defendants, Shell Petroleum Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, ENI SPA and some directors of the oil companies were accused of giving out $801 million ‎for the illegal acquisition of Malabu Oil and Gas Ltd.

The Federal Government also accused Mr Etete, Mr Adoke and others of illegally receiving the sum of $801 million to grant Oil Prospecting Licence 245 to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited.

Naira firms at 161.10 against US dollar

The Nigerian naira firmed on the interbank market on Monday as dollar flows from two energy companies and banks increased liquidity and supported the local currency.

The naira closed at 161.10 to the dollar, firmer than its 161.25 close on Friday.

Traders said a unit of Addax Petroleum sold $10 million and Agip sold about $3 million to lenders. Some banks that bought dollars from state-owned energy company NNPC last week sold a portion of their holdings in the market on Monday.

“The market is comfortable with the level of dollar liquidity, that was the reason the naira is trading at this level today,” one dealer said.

The naira rose to 160.10 to the dollar on the interbank market last Monday after NNPC sold around $400 million, but fell in the week as demand squeezed out part of the supplies. But traders expected the naira to strengthen this week.

“We see the naira appreciating further in the near term because we are gradually entering the month-end cycle and expect more dollar inflows from oil companies and offshore investors buying local debt,” another dealer said.

On the bi-weekly auction, the central bank sold $300 million at 155.89 to the dollar, compared with $430 million sold at 155.87 to the dollar last Wednesday.

 

FG denies allegation of round-tripping $1.1billion in the Malabu / Shell oil saga

The federal government has denied allegations that the $1.1billion proceeds paid to Malabu Oil and Gas Limited in settlement of the dispute between the company and Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD), over oil block 245, was shared by some private firms owned by people very close to the presidency.

A statement, signed by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Bello Adoke, explained that the federal government’s role in the saga was limited to helping to facilitate a peaceful settlement of the dispute.

Acknowledging that Malabu and SNUD had a protracted dispute over the ownership and right to operate oil block 245, the AGF noted that the allegations against the federal government cannot be substantiated due to its role as a facilitator to resolve the saga, out of court and serve as an obligor to an agreements reached, by the two parties.

Malabu had filed several suits against the federal government and the oil companies, over the withdrawal of its Operating Licence (OPL) for oil Block 245 in July 2001, which was later awarded to Shell in April 2002 after a round of bidding. Malabu was said to be dissatisfied with the revocation and contended that the circumstances leading to the revocation of its licence on Block 245 was less than transparent and smacked of inducement and connivance from SNUD, which was its technical partner for the initial OPL.

According to Mr Adoke, after series of litigation in Nigeria’s High and Appeal Courts and also in the United States, “SNUD and ENI agreed to pay Malabu through the Federal Government acting as an obligor, the sum of $ 1,092,040,000 billion in full and final settlement of any and all claims, interests or rights relating to or in connection with Block 245 and Malabu agreed to settle and waive any and all claims, interests or rights relating  to or in connection with Block 245 and also consented to the re-allocation of Block 245 to Nigerian Agip Exploration Limited (NAE) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCO).”

“It is also clear that the allegation of round-tripping levelled against the federal government of Nigeria is without basis and cannot be substantiated having regard to the role it played as mere facilitator of an amicable settlement between two disputing parties over a long standing dispute with obvious economic implications for the country” the statement added.

The AGF further noted that “government has overtime demonstrated its commitment to attract investment in the oil and gas sector of the economy and encourage genuine investors (local and foreign) by creating the enabling environment for their business to thrive.”

“The resolution of the lingering dispute over Block 245 was in furtherance of that objective. Accordingly, the federal government of Nigeria, its agencies and officials should not be dragged into a purely commercial dispute between Malabu and its purported partners” the statement read.

An online news platform, PREMIUM TIMES had last week reported on how the Federal Government, Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited (Agip) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, allegedly, entered into a secret deal in which the oil companies paid $1.1 billion to the Federal Government which was then transferred to Malabu.

The report also alleged that the AGF and the Minister of State for Finance Yerima Ngama transferred the funds to accounts of various Nigerian companies who are believed to be fronts for senior government officials.

The statement by the AGF was concluded by denying any role of a third party to the transaction, stating that “at all times material to the resolution of the dispute, the Federal Government was not aware of any subsisting third party interest in Malabu’s claim to OPL 245 and neither did any person or company apply to be joined in the negotiations as an interested party.”