In charge of the Oil portfolio within the government, the President of the Republic, Muhammadu Buhari, gave his approval on August 8 to the transfer of offshore licenses, in shallow waters, from ExxonMobil to Seplat Energy. But the operation, pending for a few months, is still far from being finalized.
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Following the announcement made by the Nigerian President, the regulatory authority, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), a reiterated its refusal to validate the transaction. Beyond the contestation of this operation by the public oil company, which claims to have pre-emption rights over the assets, the oil regulator points to a formal flaw.
bra de fer
While the presidential cabinet advocates “the need to promote investments in the oil sector” to formalize the acquisition of ExxonMobil’s Nigerian subsidiary by Seplat Energy, the NUPRC refuses to give in under the new oil law promulgated in August 2021. In addition to the better distribution of wealth drawn from black gold, the text regulates the transfer of operating permits.
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For the head of the regulatory authority, Gbenga Komolafe, the green light from the NUPRC is essential for the President of the Republic to finalize the operation. In accordance with the provisions of the law of 2021, no asset may be assigned or transferred without its written consent.
95,000 barrels of oil
Moreover, last May, the public oil company stepped up to block the operation. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which operates the assets in question through a joint venture with ExxonMobil, wants to get its hands on the four licenses concerned and thus boost its production by around 95,000 additional barrels of oil per day.
The controversial $1.28 billion transaction involves related infrastructure, 40% operating interests in concessions 67, 68, 70 and 104 and 51% of the Bonny River Terminal. If the management of the private Nigerian oil and gas company, Seplat Energy, was counting on entry into operation in the second half of 2022, the soap opera of the acquisition of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU), a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, seems to have gone pour last.