Shell kicks as Nigerian Court Orders Sale of Stakes in lucrative oil bloc

A Nigerian High Court has affirmed the enforcement of the sale of interests in the Shell Joint Venture, JV, assets in Kidney Island and specified interests in a lucrative oil bloc named; ‘Oil Mining Lease 11’ to the country’s Rivers State Government.

The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), which confirmed this in a statement to Platforms Africa, maintained that it had swiftly filed an appeal and an application for a stay of execution against the judgment issued by the Rivers State Highest Court on 13 August 2020, on oil asset, OML 11.

In the underlying judgement (Chief Agbara and Others v. SPDC), which is being enforced by the sale, the claimants themselves accepted in the High Court in England that the claim was “miscalculated” and “materially overstated”.

Prior to the instant case, the Rivers State Government had  filed a similar case at the Federal High Court Abuja asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to direct the Minister of Petroleum Resources to recognise the same purported interest acquired through auction sale.

The Government withdrew the Abuja case in July 2020 and refiled this new case at the Rivers State High Court without joining the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

The company said that its application to join the Minister of Petroleum Resources to the suit as a necessary party for a just determination of the issues was denied by the Judge.

Under the Nigerian Petroleum Act, any acquisition or assignment of interests in a licence or lease must have the consent of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.

The root case, Chief Agbara and Others v. SPDC, which led to the purported sale of interests SPDC JV’s assets is still the subject of ongoing proceedings in several courts, including the supreme court, and it remains the position of SPDC that no payment is due and any purported sale or enforcement of payment is premature and prejudicial to ongoing proceedings. The auction sale is also being challenged on appeal by SPDC.

The case has its origin in a spill caused by third parties during the Nigerian Civil War, a challenging period which resulted in significant damage to oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta region.

While SPDC did not accept responsibility for the spill, the affected sites in Ejama Ebubu community were fully remediated, and this was certified by the government regulator.

The claim for N17billion as damages was first brought by the Ejama Ebubu community against SPDC in 2001 in the Federal High Court of Nigeria.

In 2010, the court gave judgment against SPDC and awarded the claim without SPDC being given reasonable opportunity to defend the facts of the case. Indeed, this case has focused too long on procedural issues and not on its merits – we have always been clear that we are ready to defend this case based on the available facts.

SPDC appealed the 2010 judgment and obtained an order to stay the execution of the judgment upon the provision of a bank guarantee issued by First Bank of Nigeria Limited in favour of the claimants.

Despite this matter being the subject of ongoing proceedings in the Nigerian courts, the claimants went ahead to seek to enforce the judgment in both Nigeria and England.

The English court last year rejected the claimants’ attempt to enforce the Nigerian court judgment in the UK, referring to a ‘breach of natural justice’ in the proceedings against Shell in Nigeria.

The English court also found that the claimants had “materially over-stated” the value of the judgment which the claimants admitted was  N34.716billion.

The court therefore ruled that it would not be just and convenient for a Nigerian judgment to be enforced in the UK which the claimants acknowledge is “miscalculated”.

On Monday, March 2, 2020, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja issued an order attaching the sum of N182billion in First Bank of Nigeria Limited’s statutory account with the Central Bank of Nigeria in favour of  Ejama Ebubu community in Rivers State.

SPDC and other parties affected by the March 2, 2020 order of the Federal High Court filed separate appeals, as well as applied to set aside the order and restrain its execution pending the appeal decision. In accordance with the spirit of fair hearing in the Nigerian judicial system, we remain of the view that until the pending appeals are heard and determined, SPDC is not liable to make any payments, and therefore none any of its assets or interest should not be attached to satisfy the judgement.

SPDC operates the SPDC Joint Venture on behalf of the JV partners which include the Federal Government, represented by Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), with 55 per cent participating interest.


Clamp down: DPR issues 3 months quit notice for illegal gas depots

Adeola Yusuf

The Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, has issued a three-month quit notice for unregistered and illegal gas dealers in Nigeria to regularize their dealership or face possible sealing off of their business premises.

The DPR Branch Controller in Katsina State, Engineer Aminu Sanusi, who declared this, maintained that illegal gas depots, particularly those in Kastina state, must align or quit.

The renewed campaign is targeted at instilling sanity into the gas dealership business and checkmate wanton gas explosions and the unnecessary loss of lives and properties in the state.

He said; “Whenever we discover an Illegal gas outlet, we usually give them Letter Of Demand Of Explanation and insist they get registered and now some of them are Ignorant while some needed to be guided as to what Is expected from them.

”They are supposed to have our Letters and certificates indicating that they are registered with us, some are in the process of trying to register their shops while others are currently updating their papers and upgrading to other required facilities to guarantee the security and safety of lives and properties.”

He further assured that the agency will engage the Association of Gas Resellers, Katsina State Chapter in the renewed drive as part of awareness campaign ,enlightenment and disabuse of the minds of the people from thinking that they can just start gas reselling without getting the needed approvals.

He said; ‘’We are relating with them and are engaging them so they can help us sanitize the gas dealership process. We want to create more Jobs so we are not trying to take the Jobs away from them, we want their Investments to prosper very well.

’’To Just start selling Gas Is not like a filling station where they see it as been complicated and complex.This Is more than everybody can go Into.

‘’Also we are interfacing with the state government, we’ve been talking to the Commissioner for Environment, and other stakeholders, so that they can come up with a plan about locations and other implementable safety guidelines acceptable to the state government.”

On the level of awareness amongst both the consumers and dealers, he assured that the agency have developed and is currently running radio jingles and several other campaigns on the electronic media, airing two to four times a week for three months and sensitizing the public on the dangers of patronizing Gas resellers who were without their DPR Permit.

He insisted that those without the permit hadly abide by the rules and the regulations of operating gas reselling.

He appealed to the populace to partner with the agency by reporting gas resellers that were operating without approved DPR Permit or those located in places they pose imminent threat to live and properties.


EKEDC files appeal, wants High Court’s N1m damages judgement up-turned

Adeola Yusuf

Eko Electricity distribution company EKEDC has appealed the judgement of an Igbosere High Court, which awarded N1 Million damages against the company in the case filed by one Sunday Babalola.

In a statement signed by EKEDC General Manager, Corporate Communications, Godwin Idemudia, the company has appealed the judgement on the premise that it is inconsistent with industry regulation, as the company has the right to demand for outstanding payments before reconnection in accordance with the provisions of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)`s Connection and Disconnection Procedure for Electricity Services, 2007.

Recall that the claimant Sunday Babalola had approached the court over what he described as EKEDC’s refusal to connect his property situated at 7B Brown Road over unpaid outstanding electricity Bill, the court awarded N1,000,000 (One Million Naira) damages against EKEDC.

Idemudia said “the claimant on purchase of the property situated at 7B Brown Road in July 2019 failed to carry out due diligence on the existing outstanding bill on the property and making sure that the previous owner settled all outstanding electricity bills before the conclusion of the sale transaction”.

Idemudia disclosed that on approaching EKEDC to be reconnected to our infrastructure, the company informed Babalola that “there is an outstanding bill left unpaid by the previous owner of the property before he secretly sold the property to the Claimant without any recourse or notice to us.”

Idemudia reiterated that the company has always carried out its operation within regulatory framework and industry guideline, it is therefore confident that the judgement will be overturned at the appellate court.

He concluded by reassuring its customers that the company is deeply committed to improved service delivery.


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