As part of its plans towards restoring the production of the Oil Mining Licence (OML) 245, also known as Malabu Oil Well, President Bola Tinubu has ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Heineken Lokpobiri, and other agencies of government to clear all court cases around the $1.3 billion deepwater OML 245 oil block located in southern Niger Delta.
Recall that the federal government had earlier expressed its readiness to restore production of the OML 245, in order to boost Nigeria’s crude oil output.
The decision followed Italy’s Eni (ENI.MI), suspending arbitration regarding the oilfield dispute with Nigeria, and the subsequent conversion of the licence from prospecting to mining in late november 2023.
Other agencies that also received the order include the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited.
Lokpobiri disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday, as he revealed that parties in the deal were currently negotiating to end the over 28 years crisis and litigations surrounding the prolific oil block in the next one month.
Lokpobiri said, “The previous administration initiated most of the cases that we are talking about today, and they took us to court, while we took Eni, Malabu, others to different courts in Europe, Canada, etc, but we didn’t win any of the cases.
“To even shock you, there is one that got us a penalty of over 70 million pounds. How did that happen?”
He explained that JP Morgan sued the government for trying to dent its image in the saga, adding that the penalty was now binding on Nigeria.
“So we have been fined over 70 million pounds by the court. Who will pay that? You and I will pay that, or our children will pay, because it is a judgement debt. And in all the ones that we pursue both in Switzerland and other locations, we have no evidence to get conviction.
“And so it makes sense for this government to come and say that for 28 years, this block has been idle. This block is a prolific block that will add so much value to our economy, so let’s see how we can resolve the problem.
“So we are talking to Eni and Shell, and saying let’s sit down and see how we can resolve all the problems. We have taken you to court on multiple occasions, you have also taken us to court, but let’s see how we can resolve these problems,” the minister stated.
He noted that at the last meeting, “we said parties should go on with negotiations and within one month we convene and see how we will be able to sort out all the issues so that the investment can continue.”
Asked to state the parties of the federal government interfacing with Eni and Shell, he replied, “The Attorney-General of the Federation is the one leading the delegation. We have the NUPRC, EFCC, NNPC, and the Minister of State for Petroleum.
“So we are very transparent about this process. We have the full government in resolving this matter. Everything is being done transparently. This process has nothing to benefit the President as an individual.
But as President and Commander-in-Chief, his interest is the welfare of Nigerians and to attract requisite investments to the sector so that Nigerians can benefit from this God-given natural resources.”