A senior Nigerian minister urged the country’s president to end a long-running dispute with Eni SpA and Shell Plc to allow the companies to finally develop a prized deepwater oil license.
Investigations and lawsuits relating to the energy giants’ acquisition of the permit 12 years ago should be halted so Africa’s largest crude producer can “take advantage of the fast-disappearing opportunities in the global oil exploration industry,” Attorney General Abubakar Malami wrote in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari dated Feb. 6, 2023, and seen by Bloomberg.
Delays to the development of the block have had “negative economic consequences” for Nigeria, he said.
While Buhari’s administration has alleged that much of the $1.1 billion paid by Eni and Shell to the Nigerian government for the rights to Oil Prospecting License 245 was subsequently diverted to bribes and kickbacks, it has suffered high-profile defeats in courts in Italy and the UK.
Eni initiated arbitration proceedings against Nigeria in 2020, accusing the government of breaching its obligations by refusing to convert the permit into one that allows the production of hydrocarbons. [Bloomberg]