FG hindrance of Seplat, ExxonMobile deal against National interest—ISANJuly 26, 2022
The National Co-ordinator of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria(ISAN),Dr Anthony Omojola has said that the recent stopage of the asset buying deal between Nigeria’s biggest indigenous Oil and gas company, Seplat and global Oil giant ExxonMobile by FG was against our national interest.
According to Dr Omojola this is so because it counters Federal Governments’ local content policy which promotes the idea that our firms should take-over more of our oil and gas assets via acquisitions etc.
He added that the action was capable of sending wrong signals to foreign investors and others on our ease of doing business claims.
Dr Omojola who made the above statement in a chat with our Correspondent in Lagos over the recent change of nomenclature by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) which recently transformed to a Limited liability company said that he hopes that the new NNPC would become more accountable and open.
The NNPC had gone to court against the planned oil deal and got an injunction restraining Seplat and ExxonMobile .In February 2021, Seplat Energy Plc had agreed to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) from ExxonMobil for $1.3 billion.
According to media reports there had been reports that the NNPC intend to exercise a right of pre-emption on ExxonMobil’s planned sale of the MPNU assets in Nigeria.However, Seplat Energy said its deal with ExxonMobil was valid and subsisting.
In May, the federal government controversially rejected the proposed acquisition due to “overriding national interest”according to them. Edith Onwuchekwa, company secretary at Seplat, at that time said an Abuja high court had granted the NNPC an “order of interim injunction” restraining ExxonMobil “from completing any divestment” in oil mining lease 68, oil mining lease 69, oil mining lease 70 and oil prospecting licence.
It added that the court barred MPNU and Mobil Development Nigeria Plc from disposing of their shares in the joint operating agreement (JOA) between them and the NNPC.
According to the statement “Seplat Energy PLC recently became aware that, on 5 July 2022, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (“NNPC”) commenced an action at the State High Court of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja, Nigeria (“State High Court”) in relation to the acquisition of the entire shares of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (“MPNU”),” the statement reads.
“MPNU, its shareholders (Mobil Development Nigeria, Inc. and Mobil Exploration Nigeria, Inc.), and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission are named as defendants in the suit.
“NNPC has requested the State High Court to declare that a dispute has occurred between itself and MPNU in relation to the interpretation of pre-emption rights under their Joint Operating Agreement (“JOA”) and order NNPC and MPNU to arbitration as required by the JOA.
“On 6 July 2022, the State High Court made an ex parte order of interim injunction restraining the Defendants from completing any divestment in MPNU, including the Share Sale and Purchase Agreement signed with Seplat Energy Offshore Limited (the “SPA”).”