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Shell, others seek to stay proceedings in OML 25 suit


SHELL Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) Ltd;Total E & P Nigeria Ltd (TE&P) and Nigeria Agip Oil Company Ltd (NAOC) have filed an application seeking to stay further proceedings in the suit filed to halt them from transferring their 45 percent participating interests in Oil Minning Lease (OML) 25 at the Federal High Court, Lagos.

The matter is before Justice Mohammed Idris. 

The Judge had earlier made an order after hearing ex-parte application and arguments presented by Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, counsel to the applicant, Crestar Integrated Natural Resources Limited (CINRL), retraining Shell and others from divesting their interest in OML 25 pending the determination of the suit.

But the defendants on Friday said they seek to stay further proceedings pending outcome of arbitration, which is the clause in the Agreement between Crestar and the Defendants for the assignment of OML25 to Crestar. Their Motion also seeks to discharge the order of interim injunction previously made by Justice Idris. When the matter came up, the applicant’s motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction could not be taken as a result of the defendant’s application and the need for the applicant to respond to it. 

Consequently, the matter was adjourned to February 23 and 24 for hearing. 

The applicant had approached the court to complain against the defendants – SPDC,  (TE&P) and NAOC attempt to divest their interest in OML 25 to other firms contrary to the agreement they had with the applicant to transfer the interest to it.

As a result, the judge made an order, restraining the defendants from proceeding or continuing to negotiate or engage in any transaction or contract calculated or purported to transer, sell, farm out or otherwise charge, encumber, dealing, dispose of or divest the defendants/respondents 45 percent participating interest in Oil Minning Lease (OML) No. 25 to any person, authority or agency pending the determination of the motion on notice.

The court also made an order restraining the defendants, from declaring any other bidder apart from the applicant as the preferred bidder for the assignment of the defendants 45 percent undivided participating interest in OML 25 pending the determination of the motion on notice. 

Crestar in its 16-paragraph affidavit in support of the application deposed to by its managing director, Adeniyi Olaniyan, said the OML 25 is jointly owned by NNPC with 55 percentinterests and the three defendants with 45 percent.

The applicant had alleged that it had paid $453,320,000to an escrow account with JP Morgan in London, which was nominated by the defendants, consequent upon which a Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) was executed by Crestar and the defendants. 

Crestar further alleged that under the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) by which the defendants and NNPC were operating the OML 25, NNPC had 30 days, from the date it was notified of the intention of the defendants to assign their interests to Crestar, within which to exercise its pre-emption rights. 

The defendants’ notice to NNPC was alleged to have been dated July 3, 2014 and promptly delivered to NNPC which responded by a letter dated October 27, 2014 to exercise its pre-emption rights to buy the defendants’ interests in the OML 25.

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