Eroton refutes NNPC’s OML 18 operatorship claims

Eroton Exploration and Production Company Limited has refuted claims made by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) Limited last week over the operatorship of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 18 in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

An official statement by Eroton on Monday revealed a breach of the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) in that the NNPC and Sahara Field Production Limited (now known as OML 18 Energy Resource Limited) conducted the affair.

NNPC released a statement on March 6, 2023, saying it has dismissed Eroton as operator of OML 18. The national oil company said the non-operating Joint Venture (JV) partners of Oil Mining Lease (OML) 18 have appointed NNPC Eighteen Operating Limited as the operator of OML 18 to replace Eroton Exploration and Production Limited (Eroton), to curtail further degradation of the asset and revamp production of oil and gas.

“In complete breach of the terms of the Joint Operating Agreement (“JOA”) governing OML-18, and with total disregard for due process, the non-operators of OML-18, NNPC Limited and Sahara Field Production Limited (now known as OML 18 Energy Resource Limited) appointed a company, NNPC Eighteen Operating Limited as operator of OML-18,” according to the statement.

According to Eroton, it was appointed Operator of OML-18 via a legal and contractual process involving all the participating entities in the JOA.

“We have approached the relevant courts to defend its legal rights and issued a Notice of Arbitration to NNPC and Sahara in accordance with the terms contained in the JOA.”

The exploration company added that this is despite any contrary public statements by any entity in the interim period. If this action taken by NNPC and Sahara is allowed to persist, it poses a threat to all the JOA’s in Nigeria involving both multinational and indigenous oil and gas companies because due process about dispute resolution has not been followed.

“Thus, there can be no removal of an operator without following the laid down procedures and processes in Article 2.4 of the JOA,” Eroton said in the statement.

“The process is designed in such a way that notice requirements cannot be waived, and the removal of operatorship cannot be carried out without following the process provided in the JOA.”

The production company categorically denies any fraudulent acts, as stated in the false report on the operations of OML-18. Any issues that have arisen concerning Eroton’s operatorship of OML-18 are solely contractual/commercial and therefore fall outside the jurisdiction of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

“We thereby re-iterate that Eroton remains the Operator of OML-18 in line with the provisions of the JOA and any dispute whatsoever between the parties are reserved exclusively for resolution under the Dispute Resolution clause of the JOA,” Eroton said.

“The actions of the other JV partners (NNPC and Sahara) remain illegal and run contrary to the rule of law and in total breach of the terms and conditions stipulated in JOA”.

Eroton as the Operator of OML-18, remains committed to transparency, integrity, and due process, and urges the public and stakeholders to disregard any misinformation as we continue to operate in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

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