Buhari reverses approval for Seplat to buy ExxonMobil shares, supports NUPRC
President Muhammadu Buhari has reversed his approval of Seplat Energy’s purchase of ExxonMobil’s Assets. Special Adviser to the President on Media & Publicity, Femi Adesina, had, two days ago, said Buhari approved the purchase of ExxonMobil shate by Seplat.
Revealing the latest development, however, Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, told an online publication that the President’s reversal of his earlier approal was in line with the position of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC).
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.”
NUPRC had, in a statement over President Buhari’s earlier approval of the assets’ acquisition, said, as the sole regulator, it is the one that could deal with such matter. It therefore said status quo remained.
The statement from the Chief Executive of NUPRC, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, said 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.
NUPRC said: “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.
“The Commission is committed to ensuring predictable and conducive regulatory environment at all times in the Nigerian upstream sector.”
Seplat Energy Plc had, last February, announced an agreement to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation, Delaware for $1.28 billion.
The transaction entails the acquisition of ExxonMobil Nigeria’s entire offshore shallow water, an established, high-quality operation with a highly skilled local operating team and a track record of safe operations.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, however, has a pre-emptive right over the asset and had last month won a court decision temporarily blocking Exxon Mobil Corporation from selling assets in Nigeria to Seplat Energy Plc.
A judge in Abuja had granted NNPC an “order of interim injunction” on July 6, 2022, barring Exxon Mobil “from completing any divestment” in a unit that ultimately operates four licenses in Nigeria.