William Clowes 07/11/2022
(Bloomberg) – Nigeria’s state-owned energy company has won a court order temporarily preventing Exxon Mobil Corp. to sell assets in the country to Seplat Energy Plc.
A judge in the capital, Abuja, granted the Nigerian National Petroleum Co. an “interim injunction order” on July 6 restraining Exxon from “complete any divestment” in a unit that ultimately operates four licenses in the western nation -African, Seplat said in a statement on Monday. The Lagos-based producer agreed to acquire the US oil major’s subsidiary for at least $1.28 billion in February.
The NNPC wants to block the transaction and take over the permits itself. The state-owned company sued Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited on July 5, asking the State High Court either to order that a dispute had arisen between the parties over pre-emptive rights or to order them to take the case to court. arbitration, according to the press release from Seplat.
Seplat, which is not a party to the lawsuit, said its agreement with Exxon is “still valid” and that the company “remains confident that the matter will be brought to a successful conclusion in accordance with the law”. An Exxon spokeswoman declined to comment, while an NNPC spokesperson did not respond to a phone call or text message.
The acquisition would give Seplat additional production of around 95,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from shallow water assets that Exxon operates in a joint venture with NNPC. For more than a decade, international oil companies active in Nigeria have offloaded much of their portfolio in the country to domestic players, a trend that has recently accelerated.
A Nigerian court order has also forced Shell Plc to suspend plans to sell all of its remaining onshore permits in the country.