Journalism of Courage

Presidential approval for Seplat’s acquisition of Exxon Mobil shares not true, says NUPRC

.... orders status quo ante

Contrary to some media reports on Monday about President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of the acquisition of the shares of Exxon Mobil by Seplat Energy Offshore Limited, the regulatory authority — the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has denied the approval.

Consequently, it has directed that the status quo should be maintained in respect of ExxonMobil/Seplat Energy share acquisition.

A statement by the Chief Executive of the NUPRC, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, 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.

“The Commission is committed to ensuring predictable and conducive regulatory environment at all times in the Nigerian upstream sector,” he said.

Persecondnews recalls that a section of the media had reported that President Buhari had given approval for the deal to be consummated by the two companies.

In February 2022, Seplat Energy Plc had  announced an agreement to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation, Delaware, U.S. for $1.28 billion.

The transaction entails the acquisition of ExxonMobil Nigeria’s entire offshore shallow water business.

It is gathered that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd has the 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.

An Abuja High Court had granted NNPC an order of interim injunction on July 6, 2022, barring Exxon from completing any divestment” in a unit that ultimately operates four licenses in Nigeria.

The judgment notwithstanding, the President had reportedly approved the deal between Mobil and Seplat.

On July 5, 2022, the President had issued a directive to the NNPC Limited to proceed with the acquisition of 40 per cent interest of ExxonMobil.

Following the statement of the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Presidency sources said  the public should disregard the purported presidential approval of the consummation of the deal.

The President has, therefor, approved that NNPC should proceed with the pursuit of its rights under the Joint Operating Agreement of the NNPC/MPNU Joint Venture through the legal processes available to NNPC Limited.

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