Controversy over Seplat, Exxonmobil’s $1.3billion deal persists
The last may not have been heard of the controversial acquisition deal between the indigenous oil exploration firm, Seplat Energy and International oil firm ExxonMobil.
The deal has rattled the industry for over seven months as regulatory procedures generated hiccups to the historic deal that would have launched a Nigerian firm into such huge oil exploration activities.
The news of approval came as no surprise to many, as President Muhammadu Buhari consented to the acquisition of Exxon Mobil shares by Seplat Energy Offshore Limited, as part of Nigeria’s drive for Foreign Direct Investment in the energy sector.
But, the approval met stiff opposition from the Chief Executive of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, (NUPRC), Engr Gbenga Komolafe, who rejected Buhari’s consent for the approval of the deal.
Consequently, President Buhari reversed his authorisation for the transaction while the industry awaits the next line of action.
However, Seplat said it has not received any official notification of such a decision.
Chief Financial Officer, Emeka Onwuka, who said the reversal was only heard through the media, said: “Seplat Energy has received no official notification of such a decision and is seeking clarification from the relevant authorities.
“We will continue to work with all parties to achieve a successful outcome to the proposed acquisition and will provide an update in due course.
“This announcement is made pursuant to Rule 17.10 of the Rulebook of the Nigerian Exchange, 2015 (Issuer’s Rule),” stated.
President Buhari had on Wednesday, in a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, reversed his authorisation for the acquisition of the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited by Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.
This counters the earlier statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, which announced that that Buhari had consented to the transaction.
Shehu said the president’s reversal of his earlier approval was in line with the position of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission.
According to him, the confusion over ExxonMobil shares was because “the various agencies involved in the decision had not coordinated well among themselves and having looked at all of the facts with all of the ramifications, the president decided the position of the regulator is to be supported.”
Komolafe had claimed that the “status quo” remained the same revealing that as the sole regulator in the upstream sector it was by law the sole decision maker in this transaction and not the president.
He said: “The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) affirms that status quo remains in respect of ExxonMobil/Seplat Energy share acquisition.
He clarified that the commission in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 is the sole regulator in dealing with such matters in the Nigerian upstream sector.
As it were, the issue at stake is purely a regulatory matter and the commission had earlier communicated the decline of ministerial assent to ExxonMobil in this regard. As such the commission further affirms that the status quo remains.”