Africa Oil & Gas: Nigeria OPL 245 case – two hearings scheduled

Image courtesy of Eni

European oil majors Eni and Shell have initiated legal action in Nigeria to recover the offshore OPL 245 block, while Shell has confirmed receiving a summons to attend a Milan tribunal hearing in two months over alleged corrupt payments relating to the award six years ago of the block.

Shell said late February 14 it had received a notice of request for indictment relating to the 2011 settlement of long-standing disputes over OPL 245, and that the Milan tribunal has fixed the preliminary hearing for April 20.

“Based on our review of the Prosecutor’s file and our understanding of the facts, we don’t believe a request for indictment is justified and we are confident that this will be determined in the next stages of the proceedings,” said a Shell spokesperson, adding: “We continue to take this matter seriously and co-operate with the authorities.”

It’s understood that four former Shell employees referenced in the conclusion of preliminary investigation have not now been served with a summons to attend the tribunal.

Eni has not issued a fresh statement since a week ago, when it defended itself and its CEO Claudio Descalzi over the allegations.

Meanwhile Nigerian newspaper Premium Times reported February 14 that Eni and Shell have asked a federal high court in Nigeria to reverse the order late last month secured by the country’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, revoking the 2011 award of OPL 245 to them. The EFCC asked for an adjournment so it could have time to present its case in court and the hearing was set for February 27.(source: Mark Smedley)


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