President Urges Quick Resolution Of $1.28 Billion ExxonMobil-Seplat Deal

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President Bola Tinubu has pledged to swiftly resolve the legal issues surrounding a $1.28 billion deal between ExxonMobil and Seplat Energy. This statement came during his meeting with ExxonMobil’s president, Liam Mallon, and other company executives at the State House in Abuja.

In February 2022, Seplat Energy agreed to buy Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) from ExxonMobil as part of the latter’s plan to divest its assets in Nigeria. However, the deal has been delayed due to a court ruling obtained by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).

In July 2022, an Abuja judge issued an interim injunction preventing ExxonMobil from selling its Nigerian assets to Seplat Energy. This ruling has put the transaction on hold, as the NNPCL invoked its Right of First Refusal under the Joint Operating Agreement.

President Tinubu has assured that the federal government is committed to resolving the dispute between the two companies. He highlighted ExxonMobil’s longstanding partnership in Nigeria’s development and encouraged the company to continue supporting his administration’s goals.

Tinubu noted that Nigeria is undergoing significant reforms to create a favourable investment environment. He expressed confidence that both ExxonMobil and Seplat Energy are open to finding a mutually beneficial solution to the divestment issue.

Heineken Lokpobiri, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, reiterated Tinubu’s commitment. He stated that the President has directed him and NNPC’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Mele Kyari, to resolve the matter promptly.

Lokpobiri mentioned that efforts are being made to align the resolution with the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) and global best practices. He emphasised that these reforms aim to ensure that companies can operate efficiently in Nigeria without feeling compelled to leave.

The Minister also addressed concerns about decommissioning and abandonment in the oil industry, assuring that the ministry is handling these issues effectively. He highlighted that the government’s reforms will provide a stable environment for ongoing and future investments.

Seplat Energy’s planned acquisition of MPNU would have significantly increased its production capacity. However, the federal government initially refused to approve the deal, citing national interest as a primary concern.

The successful completion of this transaction would allow Seplat to enhance its production by about 95,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from the shallow-water assets formerly managed by ExxonMobil in partnership with the NNPCL. President Tinubu’s intervention is seen as crucial for moving the deal forward.

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