• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Chevron formally writes to transfer OMLs 53, 55 in defiance of Supreme Court advise

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Chevron Nigeria Limited has defied  advise by the Supreme  Court urging all the parties in the law suit involving  Brittania-U Nigeria Limited and Chevron/Seplat and others to respect the authority of the court and not do anything that might overreach the case.

The case is in respect of the acquisition of Chevron’s interest in oil mining leases (OMLS) 52, 53 and 55.

Over the weekend BusinessDay obtained letters written by Chevron to joint venture partners advising them of its transfer of some of the assets in contention to Seplat, effective April 6 this year.

The letters were dated February 23 this year and  were received by the parties concerned on  February 25, a day after the court advised involved parties not to do anything that might overreach the case.

One of the letters written by Chevron to Addax Petroleum Development Company,  with reference number REG-LEG-CNL-ADX-LEK-00005L states: “We wish to notify you of the transfer of Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL’s) interest in Oil Mining Lease 53 to Seplat Petroleum Development Plc. OML 53 will be operated by Seplat on behalf of the new joint venture between  the Nigerian  Petroleum Corporation (NNPC/Seplat jv).”

The letter, signed by  E.O Shadiya,  director NNPC/CNL. Joint venture, stated further :“Consequently, title to the assets and production from OML53  now belongs to the NNPC/Seplat  JV operated by Seplat. Although operations of the assets is still handled by CNL this  is being done on behalf of  Seplat for NNPC/SeplatJV under a transition process at the end of which  custody and operation of OML53 would be handed over to Seplat.

“The transition process  commenced on February 5th, 2015 , and it is anticipated to end on or about April  6th, 2015 at which  point, Seplat will assume  operatorship of OML 53.”

Similarly, the  letter  to  the managing director of Shell Petroleum Development Company,  follows the same pattern with that of  Addax, except that it purports that the owner of OML55  is now  Belema oil.

The letter with reference number REG-LEG-CNL-SPD-LEK 000020L  to Shell states : ‘’ We wish to notify you  of the transfer of Chevron Nigeria  Limited (CNLs ) interest in Oil Mining Lease OML 55 to Belema Producing Limited  (Belemaoil).

“OML 55 will be operated  by Seplat Petroleum Resources  on behalf of new of the new joint venture between  Belema Oil  and the NNPC. Seplat is  a part owner of Belema oil.

“Consequently, title to the assets and production from OML 55  now belongs to the NNPC/Belema oil  JV operated by Seplat. Although operations of the assets is still handled by CNL, this  is being done on behalf of  Seplat for NNPC/ Belema oil JV under a transition process at the end of which  custody and operation of OML55 would be handed over to Seplat.

“The transition process commenced on February 5th, 2015 , and it is anticipated to end on or about April  6th, 2015 at which  point Seplat will assume operatorship of OML 55”.

The letter was also signed by E.O. Shadiya.

The letters were also copied to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Seplat, NNPC and the National Petroleum Investment Management Service (NAPIMS).

It was received by most of the  companies on February 25 this year, a day after the  Supreme Court gave its advise to the  parties involved in the litigation.

Also a 7 a.m. Aero Contractors Flight 6311 touched down in Port Harcourt last Wednesday, carrying officials of both Chevron Nigeria Limited and Seplat Petroleum Development Company, in what was ostensibly believed to be a mission to inspect two of Chevron’s assets that the multinational put up for sale in 2013, the matter of which is now subject to litigations, with the latest about to kick off at the Supreme Court.

The inspection trip came barely a day after the Supreme Court, sitting for the first time over an appeal filed before it, said it was ready to proceed with the main suit and admonished parties to the suit, including Chevron Nigeria Limited, Brittania-U Nigeria Limited (originator of the appeal) and Seplat Petroleum Development Company Limited, to stay any action on the asset sale.

Seplat had announced last month that it had concluded the acquisition of Chevron’s 40 per cent interest in Oil Mining Lease 53, onshore north eastern Niger Delta for $259.4 million. The company also said it had concluded negotiations to buy 56.25 per cent of Belema Oil Producing Limited, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that has bought a 40 per cent interest in the producing OML 55, located in the swamp in the coastal zone of south eastern Niger Delta.

But BusinessDay learnt over the weekend that the combined team of Chevron and Seplat visited Chevron’s OIS facilities in Trans-Amadi in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, as well as other offices in the city on Wednesday.

The schedule had also been worked out to include meetings with members of Chevron’s local unions, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in Port Harcourt and would have taken the officials to Onne, also in Rivers State and Yenogoa in Bayelsa State.

Sources close to the meetings said the meetings with workers could not go ahead because workers refused to attend, questioning the procedure used to arrange them.

One official particularly said the workers were aware of the pronouncement made by the Supreme Court last week, that all parties should stay action, but that they had also been mindful that such notice for such meetings would normally originate from the national headquarters of the unions.

Justice Fabiyi, the presiding justice on the Supreme Court panel, who sat on the appeal on the matter, had reminded the counsels representing the parties to the case, that it was their duty to advise their clients on the need to respect the authority of the court.

Rickey Tarfa, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) with A. J. Owonikoko (SAN) and others, appeared for Brittainia U – the appellant.

D. D. Dodo (SAN) appeared with other counsel, for Seplat, while Uche Nwokedi  (SAN) and another, appeared for Chevron Nig. Plc.

Olusola Bello & Ignatius Chukwu