Africa Oil & Gas: ENI, Shell confirm Nigerian return of OPL 245

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A Nigerian court on March 17 reversed an earlier decision over the offshore OPL 245 exploration block, effectively returning the block to Shell and Eni. The news was reported locally, including by Abuja-based newspaper Premium Times.

A tribunal in Milan though is still expected to grill both companies and certain individuals on April 20 about allegedly corrupt payments for OPL 245 in 2011.

In a statement provided to NGW March 21, Eni said it “confirms that on 17th March the Federal High Court of Abuja (Nigeria) accepted the motion filed by NAE, controlled by Eni and operating in Nigeria, and Snepco, controlled by Shell, to reverse the temporary cautionary seizure of the OPL 245 licence, ordered by the Court on the 26th January at the request of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.”

Eni added: “As a result of this measure the OPL245 field has been returned to NAE and Snepco, who are co-owners with equal share. Eni reaffirms the correctness of its conduct within the acquisition of the licence.”

A Shell spokesperson said: “Snepco welcomes the outcome of the hearing on 17 March in the Federal High Court to discharge the forfeiture of OPL245. As the case itself, relating to the 2011 settlement of the associated long-standing disputes of the offshore block, is the subject of ongoing investigations, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”(source: Mark Smedley)

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