Nigeria’s Oil Sector Regulator Queries President Buhari’s Assent of ExxonMobil Acquisition by Seplat
Nigeria’s oil sector regulatory body, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) has queried President Muhammad Buhari’s authority to approve the acquisition of ExxonMobil Nigeria assets by indigenous energy, Seplat Energy; a transaction that was put on hold a few months ago.
Shortly after the news broke of the approval by the president, and despite the explanation by the presidency spokesman, Femi Adesina, that the President did so in his capacity as substantive minister of petroleum minister resources, the NUPRC chief executive of Mr. Gbenga Komolafe, threw his hat into ring insisting that the action was outside the powers of the petroleum minister.
According to him, the decision by NUPRC to decline assent to the transfer of ExxonMobil shares to Seplat Energy Offshore Limited remained. Komolafe pointed out that the Commission as the upstream regulator under the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) is fully vested with the powers to deal with such issues.
“It’s purely a regulatory issue. There hasn’t been a change and the status quo remains and the Commission operates purely in line with the provisions of the PIA,” he said.
President Buhari had communicated his authorization of the acquisition of the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited by Seplat Energy Offshore Limited came via a tweet on Monday, titled ‘President Buhari consents to the acquisition of Exxon Mobil shares by Seplat Energy Offshore Ltd,’
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.
Adesina said Buhari took the decision in view of the extensive benefits of the transaction to the Nigerian Energy sector and the larger economy.
“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.
“Exxon Mobil/Seplat are expected to carry out operatorship of all the oil mining licenses in the related shallow water assets towards production optimisation to support Nigeria’s OPEC quota in the short term as well as ensure accelerated development and monetisation of the gas resources in the assets for the Nigerian economy,” the presidency spokesman said.
He stressed further that President Buhari equally directed that all environmental and abandonment liabilities be adequately mitigated by Exxon Mobil and Seplat.