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Why President ordered revocation of Addax’s oil assets, by Sylva

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Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, has justified the decision to revoke the oil mining licences (OMLs) belonging to Addax Petroleum Exploration Nigeria Limited.

Testifying before the Musa Sarki Adar-led House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) on the circumstances surrounding the matter, the minister explained that the decision was duly endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Sylva maintained that the President, acting on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, decided based on the realisation that the oil assets were not developed in line with laid down rules and regulations.

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The minister held that the resolution became necessary in realisation that the oil firm allegedly made futile effort to sell the assets to Sinopec in breach of the Petroleum Act.

He said: “Mr. President took the right action on the matter in accordance with the laws of our land. As far as I know, the action was fully within the ambit of the law. Mr. President has the powers. As Minister of Petroleum, we revoked an asset that has not been properly managed. But in this case, it was not because of that, it was because of Article 24 of the Petroleum Act.

The minister had revoked OMLs 123, 124, 126 and 137. Explaining the process leading to the decision, he said: “The AGF wrote to Mr. President that this asset was not properly managed in accordance with the petroleum laws of this country. And that letter was forwarded to me by Mr. President for review and then get back to him.

“Based on that, I wrote to the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), which actually investigated the matter.” Sylva continued: “The AGF wrote based on a letter from a whistle blower. The DPR report is also here with me and it confirmed everything that the AGF alleged.

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“Meanwhile, we must realise that this asset was bought by Sinopec Offshore in 2009 and came to Nigeria as Addax. They didn’t change the name and consequently, they also did not pay anything for ministerial consent of the transaction. So, they had been operating that asset without ministerial consent.”

“Now when the DPR confirmed the status of the asset, I now wrote to Mr. President. But before I wrote, information got to me that Addax was at the verge of selling it off.” He faulted the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for requesting for a reversal of the order.

Adar, therefore, directed the heads of the national oil company and its subsidiaries to appear before the panel in two weeks to explain their own side of the story.

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