Oil majors expect first ruling in Nigeria’s $1.3b oilfield scandal
• NNPC urges expansion of pipeline infrastructure
International oil companies, Shell and Eni, are carefully monitoring a first ruling this week by a Milan judge in one of the energy industry’s biggest corruption scandals for clues to what might be around the corner for them.
The two firms are embroiled in a long-running graft case revolving around the purchase in 2011 of one of Nigeria’s OPL 245 for about $1.3 billion.
The case, which involves Eni’s Chief Executive Officer, Claudio Descalzi and four former Shell managers, including one-time Shell Foundation Chairman, Malcolm Brinded, has spawned suits spanning several countries and is expected to drag on for months.
But tomorrow, in the suit running parallel to the main trial, a judge would decide, for the first time, whether $1.1 billion of the sum was siphoned in bribes to win the oilfield licence, according to Reuters. The parties have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday said the country needs solutions that would urgently lead to expansion of pipeline infrastructure nationwide.
Delivering a keynote address at the Nigerian International Pipeline Technology and Security Conference in Abuja, NNPC Group Managing Director, Dr. Maikanti Baru, stated that the Pipeline Professionals Association of Nigeria (PLAN) and other stakeholders must proffer answers that could lead to a dramatic change and expansion of pipeline business in the country.
He disclosed that the group resorted to contractor financing of its pipelines and other facilities’ development in recent times to overcome the nation’s prevalent funding challenge.
According to him, the development has enabled the corporation to aggressively build the pipeline infrastructure within the Gas Master Plan as manifest in the recent award of the Ajaokuta-Abuja-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) gas pipeline and all ongoing downstream pipeline infrastructure rehabilitation efforts.
The GMD, who was represented the corporation’s Chief Operating Officer, Ventures, Babatunde Adeniran, noted that pipelines remain the cheapest way of moving products across distances, adding that their operations and construction had been an expensive undertaking in Nigeria.