The fate of ExxonMobil deal to transfer its shares to indigenous oil and gas company, Seplat Energy is hanging in the balance following a disagreement between President Muhammadu Buhari and the industry regulator, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, NUPRC.
The deal which was supposed to have transferred ExxonMobil shares in Nigeria Oil and Gas assets to Seplat has been mired in controversy.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina had earlier on Monday announced that the President has approved the deal, but late in the night, NUPRC Chief Executive, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe said the Commission refusal to authorise it remains.
Adesina said: “In his capacity as Minister of Petroleum Resources, and in consonance with the country’s drive for Foreign Direct Investment in the energy sector, President Muhammadu Buhari has consented to the acquisition of ExxonMobil shares in the United States of America by Seplat Energy Offshore Limited.
“ExxonMobil had entered into a landmark Sale and Purchase Agreement with Seplat Energy to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited from Exxon Mobil Corporation, Mobil Development Nigeria Inc, and Mobil Exploration Nigeria Inc, both registered in Delaware, USA.
Considering the extensive benefits of the transaction to the Nigerian Energy sector and the larger economy, President Buhari has given Ministerial Consent to the deal.
“The President, in commitment to investment drive in light of the Petroleum Industry Act, granted consent to the Share Sales Agreement, as requested by the parties to the transaction, and directed that the approval be conveyed to all the parties involved.
“ExxonMobil/Seplat are expected to carry out operatorship of all the oil mining licenses in the related shallow water assets towards production optimization to support Nigeria’s OPEC quota in the short term as well as ensure accelerated development and monetization of the gas resources in the assets for the Nigerian economy.
“President Buhari also directed that all environmental and abandonment liabilities be adequately mitigated by Exxon Mobil and Seplat”, he stated.
But countering the move, Engr. Komolafe said: “The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) affirms that status quo remains in respect of ExxonMobil/Seplat Energy share acquisition.
“Responding to media enquiries on latest development about the transaction, 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 a predictable and conducive regulatory environment at all times in the Nigerian upstream sector”, he declared.