AITEO vs Shell: Court Refuses To Unfreeze SPDC’s Bank Accounts

A file photo of a court gavel.


A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has refused to discharge an interim order it granted, freezing the bank accounts of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) and that of its subsidiaries.

In her ruling on the case on Tuesday, Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo summoned the secretaries and chief financial officers of two banks who allegedly disobeyed the interim ex-parte order directing the freezing of the accounts.

The affected banks and their officials are Citi Bank Ltd., its Company Secretary, Sola Fagbure, and Chief Financial Officer, Sharaf Mohammed, as well as United Bank For Africa (UBA) Plc, its Company Secretary, Bill Andrew Odum, and Chief Financial Officer, Ebenezer Kolawole.

Justice Oguntoyinbo court ordered the alleged contemnors to appear before the court on the next adjourned date of March 29, 2021.

She warned that their failure to appear would result in a warrant of arrest being issued against them.

The judge made these orders while ruling on three applications in a suit filed by AITEO Eastern E&P Company Ltd. against SPDC and four others.

AITEO is claiming about $2.7 billion against SPDC over alleged problems with the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) pipeline it bought from the Anglo-Dutch group in 2015, and over claims that Shell undercounted its oil exports.

At AITEO’s instance, Justice Oguntoyinbo granted an interim Mareva injunction on January 25, 2021, directing 20 commercial banks to block SPDC and its subsidiaries’ accounts and to bar Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian subsidiaries from withdrawing money at 20 banks until it ‘ringfences’ potential damages in the lawsuit brought against the firm.

The order was sequel to AITEO’s bid to recover from Shell, the cash equivalent of more than 16 million barrels of crude oil allegedly diverted by the oil giant.

Eighteen of the banks were said to have complied with the order, except Citi Bank and UBA.

On the respondents’ application to vacate the Mareva injunction and unfreeze the bank accounts, the judge held that the ex-parte order subsists, pending the determination of AITEO’s motion on notice.

She, thereafter, adjourned until March 29 for the hearing of the committal proceedings and other applications.

Joined with SPDC as respondents in the suit were Royal Dutch Shell Plc; Shell Western Supply and Trading Ltd; Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Ltd; and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Ltd.


Three Applications, One Judge

At the last hearing on March 9, the court faced three applications by the plaintiff – AITEO and the defendants – SPDC and others – relating to its jurisdiction, motion to discharge its ex-parte order, and committal proceedings against the two banks.

AITEO’s counsel and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Kemi Pinheiro, had asked the court to hear the committal proceedings first.

Pinheiro reasoned that it was “necessary that the named persons in committal proceedings (the bank officials) be present in court” because the proceedings “attached to their person”.

He said the alleged contemnors had been served “and there’s proof of service,” adding that the quasi-criminal nature of committal proceedings made their appearance a necessity.

The senior lawyer noted that they had not filed a response.

In their responses, three SANs – Adewale Atake, Olawale Akoni and Chukwuka Ikwuazom – who represented SPDC, the banks, and the four Shell subsidiaries respectively, opposed the move.

They, however, asked the court to hear applications questioning its jurisdiction and another motion to discharge the order blocking the accounts.

After listening to the lawyers, the judge upheld Pinheiro’s application and prioritised the application for committal proceedings.

“The committal proceedings is the appropriate application to consider… I, therefore, hold that the first application to be heard is the committal proceedings,” she held.

The judge further ruled that the presence of the named bank officials was necessary, saying “The alleged contemnors must be present in court at the next hearing, otherwise a warrant of arrest shall be issued against them.”

One Soldier, Two NSCDC Officials Killed By Suspected Militants In Rivers


A Soldier with 29 Battalion of 6 Division Nigerian Army (NA) and two personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), have been killed by suspected militants in Rivers State.

The personnel guarding Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Trans National Pipelines at Gio community were attacked by suspected militants on Sunday, in an attempt to vandalize 24″ and 28″ TNP pipelines.

Deputy Director Public Relations, 6 Division, Nigerian Army, Colonel Aminu Iliyasu, confirmed the attack in a statement.

“In the early hours of Sunday the 16th of June 2019 (Yesterday), troops of 29 Battalion of 6 Division Nigerian Army (NA) in conjunction with personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) guarding Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Trans National Pipelines at Gio community in Tai Local Government Area (LGA) of Rivers State were attacked by suspected militants who were hitherto prevented from vandalizing 24″ and 28” TNP thereby putting them out of the illicit business.

“Unfortunately, during the ensuing fire fight one soldier and 2 personnel of the NSCDC lost their lives and their weapons (one AK 47 and 2 G3 rifles) were carted away by the assailants.”

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The statement added that there was an immediate reinforcement by troops at the location and an intelligence led to the tracking and engagement with the suspects in a gun battle.

“Consequently, at about 9:00am, troops cashing on available information sighted a white Toyota Hilux vehicle without number plate, hastily driven with 4 occupants.

“Sensing danger, the occupants opened fire at the troops in a bid to escape. Troops reacted, and incapacitated the militants’ vehicle. As a result, the bandits abandoned their vehicle and fled to the bush.

“One of the criminals was gunned down and was identified as the wanted notorious cultists and illegal oil bunkering kingpin Korobe Menele – popularly known as MENE. Others with him, believed to escape with gunshot wounds – leaving trails of blood.

Iliyasu added that the troops recovered a vehicle, ammunition and other items which was handed over to the NSCDC Rivers State Command for further action.

“The following items were recovered from the scene and in the vehicle:, 1 x K2 Rifle, 2 x Magazines loaded with 52 Rounds of 5.56mm, some personal effects, one pair of vehicle plate number KRK 95DP RIVERS and some documents.

“The body and other recovered exhibits have been handed over to the NSCDC Rivers State Command for further action, while troops continue to track the remaining fleeing bandits to face justice.”

Bayelsa Govt. Admonishes Oil Firms On Flouting Court Orders

Oil, Bayelsa, CourtThe Bayelsa State Government has expressed concern and displeasure with oil firms for flouting court orders on oil spill cases in the state.

The government decried the alleged ‘blatant disregard for court rulings’ and called on oil firms operating in the state to embrace the rule of law.

The appeal was made by the Special Adviser to Governor Seriake Dickson on Oil and Gas, Mr Felix Ayah, in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

“Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has reneged its corporate social responsibilities to maintain peace in its operations, negating the state government’s effort to strengthen the existing peace for smooth operations by (the) oil firms.

“After going through the outcome of the court’s verdict at my disposal authenticating Anyamawari family as certified owners of the land, it is incumbent on SPDC to recognise and treat them as such,” said Mr Ayah who mediated in a peace meeting between Onyoma community in Southern Ijaw and the SPDC.

He advised the Anyamawari family to channel all relevant documents to appropriate quarters of the company for prompt action and payments of all outstanding obligations without further delay.

An official of the SPDC, who said that the oil firm had laid down procedures in resolving issues with communities where it operates, urged the community to follow the same process.

The Bayelsa Government had in January 2016 sued the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, seeking 1.6 trillion naira damages for pollution caused by an oil spill in Brass area of the state in November 2013.

Nigerian Oil Spill: Court Rules Villagers Cannot Sue Shell In London

ACrude-oil-spill High Court sitting in the United Kingdom has ruled that oil major Royal Dutch Shell cannot be sued in London courts over allegations of oil spill in Nigeria.

Bille and Ogale communities in the oil-rich Niger Delta region had filed a case alleging oil spill against the company’s subsidiary, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) in the British court.

But the court on Thursday ruled that the suit did not establish that Shell, the parent company, had legal responsibility for SPDC’s actions and that the claimants failed to demonstrate the first threshold requirement – that is a ‘real issue’ between the claimant and the anchor defendants – is met.

Observers say that if the High Court had ruled in favour of the two communities, other claimants against British-based multinationals could have been emboldened to pursue legal action through the British courts.

Shell also denies responsibility for the spills, which it says were due to sabotage and illegal refining.

In the meantime, Leigh Day, a law firm representing the villagers, said it would appeal the ruling.

The SPDC’s General Manager for external relations, Igo Weli, said the firm hoped “the strong message sent by the English court on Thursday will ensure that any future claims by Nigerian communities concerning operations conducted in Nigeria will be heard in the proper local courts”.


Shell Relocates Gas Pipeline Across Kolo Creek Underneath River

Shell Relocates Gas Pipeline Across Kolo Creek Underneath RiverThe Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has relocated its Kolo Creek-Soku gas pipeline across Kolo River in Bayelsa from the river surface to the river bed.

A visit to the Kolo Creek Oilfield operated by SPDC shows that the gas pipeline is no longer located on the water surface across the creek.

Oil workers were seen refilling dug out sand from the creek.

SPDC had in October 2016 passed the gas pipeline above the surface of the Kolo River, hampering navigation by fishing canoes, transport boats amongst others in the channel.

The development had triggered resistance amongst environmentalists and residents affected by the blockade which compelled SPDC to remove the pipeline from the water surface and buried it under the riverbed.

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), had in its advocacy urged SPDC to bury the pipeline to protect the economic interest of residents who used the creek as transport channel and fishing activities.

Reacting to the development, Head of Field Operations at ERA/FoEN,  Mr Alagoa Morris, noted that it was a welcome development and applauded SPDC for taking steps to correct the anomaly.

“It is a positive outcome of our advocacy efforts and we commend SPDC for taking steps to come back to bury the pipeline under the river bed, it shows that we are partners to ensure that the oil industry is run in a sustainable manner.

“We always demand justice and fair play and preach the principle of ‘live and let live’, with the pipeline underneath the Kolo River, fishermen and community people who use the creek will operate while Shell carries on its business as well.

“We in the environmental rights movement are keen on complimenting and strengthening the efforts of the regulatory authorities. We are not trouble makers as some of the industry operators perceive us, we do not shout for nothing.

“When they do well we applaud and commend them, and this is a win-win situation for Shell and its host community. This action makes further protests which we planned unnecessary,” Morris said.

Also, an Environmental Scientist and development worker at Connected Development (CODE), Ms Benita Siloko, noted that she was worried about the adverse impact of crossing the pipeline on water surface when she noticed the pipeline in December 2016 during the Christmas holidays.

“I had observed the pipeline across the water surface and opted to take photographs because it looked abnormal for a channel where boats and canoes pass, I am pleasantly surprised that they have corrected the problem.

“Oil firms must understand that the welfare and economic interest of oil bearing communities count while executing their projects.

“As an environmentalist I feel happy at the development, and it shows that with the support provided by the civil society advocacy groups like ERA/FoEN our communities would be a better place to live in,” Siloko said.

Warri Host Communities Shut Down Operations At Shell

warri, protestThree communities in the Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta state have shut down operations at the Shell Petroleum Distribution Company (SPDC), Flow station Excravos Warri.

The protesters who included men, women, youths and children of Ogidigben, Ajudaibo and Mandagho communities, occupied the installation located in their community, which is also a major place where crude oil is assembled for exportation.

The peaceful protest, which commenced on Thursday, led protesters to carry placards clearly explaining their grievance against an alleged neglect by the SPDC, in the provision of water and constant electricity in their communities.

They demanded potable water while lamenting that their only access for water, were ponds in different locations in the community.

Protesters disclosed that a generator set powers the community only for a few hour, as they cannot afford to buy diesel on daily basis to power it.

As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, operators at the Nigerian oil and gas industry are expected to show case a well-articulated and effectively publicized social responsibility policy as well as implement programmes that would be beneficial to its host communities.

The calamitous state in the oil and gas host communities of the Niger Delta, however, appears to contradict the corporate social responsibility performance claims of the entire operators of the industry.

According to the people, there have been various meetings between the community leadership and the company representatives, during which agreements were even signed but never kept.

In fresh agreements, the SPDC says it has a mission in Nigeria to become: “the operator of first choice, through a commitment to strong economic performance and to every aspect of sustainable development.

Also in its policy statement, SPDC which is responsible for over 40% of the total national production, insisted that “through its community investment programmes, the company is demonstrating its commitment to improving the quality of life for all those who live and work in the Niger/Delta.

With this re-iteration by the SPDC, host communities have renewed hopes and therefore expect more commitment from the oil company, especially in the area of basic infrastructural needs.

Shell Confirms Attack On Facility In Nigeria’s Niger Delta

Shell Niger Delta facility attackThe Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, operator of the SPDC JV, has confirmed an attack on its export pipeline in the Niger Delta region.

The company says it noticed a leak from the 48inch Forcados export pipeline at a location between shoreline and the Forcados terminal in the western Niger Delta.

Shell’s confirmation is coming on the heels of a reported attack on the pipeline in the early hours of Friday.

Shell says it is yet to fully evaluate the potential impact and damage to the pipeline resulting from this latest incident.

“We have, however, mobilised appropriate oil spill response measures and will be conducting a joint investigation visit to the leak site with relevant stakeholders.

“We are currently focused on securing the pipeline to protect the environment.

“Given this latest incident and the wider security situation in the Niger Delta, we are unable to determine probable timing of resumption of exports from the Forcados terminal,” a statement by Shell said.

SPDC is the operator of the export line on behalf of the joint venture partners comprising NNPC which has 55 stake, SPDC 30%, Total E&P Nigeria Ltd 10% and Nigerian Agip Oil Company 5%.

A militant group, the Niger Delta Avengers, had earlier on Friday claimed it attacked oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.

The group said through its Twitter account that it had blown up a pipeline in Bayelsa State owned by Italy’s ENI, hours after attacks on another ENI pipeline as well as one belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC).

The group said it had blown up the Brass to Tebidaba crude oil line in Bayelsa.

It said it had “warned the SPDC not to go ahead with repair works but they refuse”.

Militancy has resurged in Nigeria’s Niger Delta in the last few weeks, with the Niger Delta Avengers attacking oil facilities in the region.

They had said they would bring oil exploration in the region to a zero level.

They are demanding for the region’s independence.

But President Muhammadu Buhari had asked security agencies to protect oil facilities in the the region and end attacks by the militant group.


Niger Delta Avengers: Britain Cautions FG Over Military Option

Niger Delta Avengers, Niger Delta, MILITARY OPTIONThe British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, has cautioned the federal government over military option as a measure to tackle the resurgence of militancy and other criminality in the Niger Delta region.

The British High Commissioner was speaking in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, shortly after his courtesy visit to the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo.

He also advocated for dialogue as part of a comprehensive approach that should be adopted by Nigerian government to address the situation, adding that force alone may not bring about a lasting solution to the Niger Delta issue.

The Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), an armed militant group, and other violent youth organisations have been launching violent attacks on oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta area.

Early on Friday, the Niger Delta Avengers militant group claimed three new attacks in the Niger Delta region.

The group said through its Twitter account that it had blown up a pipeline in Bayelsa State owned by Italy’s ENI, hours after attacks on another ENI pipeline as well as one belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC).

This is sequel to several other attacks they have carried out in recent weeks resulting in international oil companies shutting down their facilities and consequently a drop in the country’s revenue from oil.

The action has forced the federal government to respond by deploying troops to the area’s creeks to stop the alleged destruction of national economic assets and spate of sabotage being perpetrated there by the region’s restive youths.

Niger Delta Avengers Militant Group Claims Attacks In Bayelsa

Gunmen-Militants-insurgentsThe Niger Delta Avengers militant group has claimed three new attacks in the Niger Delta region.

Early on Friday, the group said through its Twitter account that it had blown up a pipeline in Bayelsa State owned by Italy’s ENI, hours after attacks on another ENI pipeline as well as one belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC).

The group said on a Twitter account it uses to claim attacks that it has blown up the Brass to Tebidaba crude oil line in Bayelsa.

The pipeline is used to transport Brass River crude, which was placed under force majeure after an attack in May, to an export terminal.

Hours earlier, the group said it blew up the Ogboinbiri-Tebidaba and Clough creek-Tebidaba pipelines in Bayelsa and a Shell forcados export pipeline.

That grade has been under force majeure since an attack on a sub-sea pipeline in February.

ENI has not confirmed or denied the attacks, but a spokesman for the SPDC, which operates the forcados line, says the company is “investigating reports of an attack on its pipeline in the western Niger Delta.

Ogoni Land: Shell Commends Clean-up Directive, Pledges Cooperation

Shell-petroleum-on- ogoni landInternational oil company, Shell Petroleum Development Company, has described the move for the clean-up of Ogoni land as a demonstration of leadership by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The company, while promising to play its part in maintaining the momentum, however, rejected the allegation by international human rights organisation, Amnesty International, that its remediation method in Ogoni land is ineffective.

Amnesty International had claimed that the President’s initiative would fail and the Ogoni people would continue to suffer, as long as Shell fails to change its method of oil spill clean-up.

But in a statement, Shell reaffirmed its commitment to the implementation of the UNEP report as it had reviewed its use of bio-remediation as the principal clean up technique appropriate for the Niger -delta.

It added, “SPDC is working with several additional remediation options recommended by independent experts to ensure that the most appropriate techniques are applied in all impacted sites.”

It further emphasised that in line with the UNEP position, treating the problem of environmental pollution in Ogoni land merely as a technical clean-up exercise is what would result in failure.

It therefore urged coordinated and collaborative action to end the widespread pipeline sabotage, crude oil theft and illegal refining of crude which it claimed are the main causes of environmental pollution in Ogoni land and the Niger-delta in general.



Maritime Workers’ Union Issue Ultimatum To NPA Management

NPAThe Maritime Workers’ Union has issued a two-week ultimatum to the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to pay the eight months salary arrears owed tally clerks and security men who work at the sea ports and terminals.

According to the President General of the union, Anthony Nted, all previous engagement with the ports management has not yielded much. He said the situation might lead to an industrial action if the payments were not made.

He, however, outlined other grievances to include the indiscriminate parking of truck leading to the ports, the deplorable state of roads and relocating tank farms along access road to the sea ports.

Comrade Nted pointed out that the union was not interested in paralysing the ports because of its implication in the nation’s economy. He said that the union had decided to shelve the planned strike and gave NPA a two-week ultimatum to prevail on the companies to pay their debts.

He, however, warned that should the affected companies fail to pay within the two weeks ultimatum, the entire ports would be shut down without notice.

The maritime President appealed to the management of NPA to ensure that things did not degenerate to that level.

On the issue of unpaid arrears to on-board security and tally clerks, he said everything was almost concluded for the payment of the over two years arrears, explaining that the payment could be made within the next three weeks, as the board of NPA last week approved payment of the arrears.

The affected companies include Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, Chevron/Texaco, Agip Energy & Natural Resources, Lammalco Nigeria Ltd, Murphy Shipping, Globestar Nigeria Ltd, Hyundai Heavy Industry Nigeria Ltd, ESSO Exploration Production Nigeria ltd, NAOC, TIDEX , Seabulk off shore, Saipem group, Wilbross, Moni Pulo Nigeria Ltd, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited ADDAX Petroleum Development Nigeria Ltd, Amni Petroleum, SNEPCO Ltd, Hydrodive Nig Ltd, Red Transport Nigeria Ltd and Edison Chouset offshore Ltd.

Comrade Nted lamented that the aggrieved workers had been passing through untold hardships and suffering.

“The continued denial of the payment of these dues to the dockworkers – a suffering class of workers, some of whom have died while waiting for the payment – is inhuman and unacceptable.

“As the Authority charged with the responsibility of superintending over the Port operations, we demand that the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority enforces the directive to the companies to pay up the bills without further delay. We further wish to state that we may be forced to withdraw the services of the dockworkers from all our seaports if the payment is not made. Injury to one is injury to all,” he warned.

Youths, Women Shut Down Shell Facilities In Bayelsa

ShellSome youths and women from Nembe communities in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, on Friday shut down two flow stations belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) for about two hours.

The two facilities, located along the Nembe creek 1 and 2 and said to produce over 600,000 barrels of crude oil per day, were invaded by the agitated youths and switched off at about 10am.

The protesting Nembe indigenes, armed with placards with various inscriptions portraying their grievances, accused the SPDC of neglect and disregard for a signed Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU).

They alleged that despite the peaceful disposition of the Nembe people to the company’s exploration activities for over 50 years, the SPDC, according to them, has failed to provide the promised electricity, water and good health facilities for the community.

The protesters were, however, dispersed with the intervention of security personnel and after officials of the SPDC met with some of the community leaders.

They agreed to meet again next week at the SPDC office in the Rivers State capital, Port Harcourt to iron out the areas of disagreement.