The sale of Eni’s subsidiary, Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited, NAOC, oil assets comprising Oil Mining Lease, OMLs 60, 61, 62, and 63 – to Oando Oil Limited has thrown the oil and gas industry into controversy over the weekend.
The controversy is based on the fact that ExxonMobil was previously stopped from selling its entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, MPNU, to Seplat Energy Plc.
Industry leaders, who spoke to Vanguard Newspaper said they expected a similar trend as the government had agreed that such assets should be utilised to enable the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, a fully-owned subsidiary of NNPC Limited, build its capacity to become a major exploration and producing company.
According to them, they were shocked to note the smooth sailing of the Eni/Oando deal, thus provoking Seplat Energy and other parties.
Mazi Colman Obasi, the National President of the Oil and Gas Service Providers Association of Nigeria said he did not expect the issues to be treated separately, “I cannot understand why the two cases are treated differently. I expect the government to be fair and transparent to all investors.”
Similarly, Lead Promoter, EnergyHub Nigeria, Prof. Felix Amieyeofori, said: “This is a new government that is making efforts to attract private investors and needs to send the right signals to the global community. It should also be known that Oando had successfully acquired Eni’s assets before for development. There seems to be trust that informs the current transaction by Eni.”
Already, the NNPC Limited has clarified via its Twitter, that it is not against the sale of shares by Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited, NAOC, to Oando Oil Limited. “NNPC Limited wishes to state that the letter was sent by NEPL, an NNPC Ltd. subsidiary. However, nowhere was opposition or objection to the transaction in the letter. NEPL is only drawing attention to certain important clauses in the Joint Operating Agreement between it, NAOC and OOL; which might have been overlooked in error. Adherence to those clauses will protect the transaction, now and in the future.”
The report added that the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, had on their part, ordered the withdrawal of its members from all offices and field locations of Eni, over the sale deal before the two parties resolved to meet this week in order to allay the fears of workers, who are sceptical that the sale of the assets would culminate in retrenchment.
A source, who confirmed the planned meeting, said: “Workers were scarred that the deal would lead to their retrenchment because they were not sufficiently carried along. The management has decided to engage them in order to restore harmony and enhance operations.
“The assurances given by the NNPC Limited that it is not opposed to the deal will go a long way in enhancing peace. The workers were not pleased with the way it was handled before.”