The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has filed an appeal and an application for a stay of execution of the judgment issued by the Rivers State High Court on Thursday which affirmed the enforcement of the purported sale of interests in SPDC’s JV’s assets in Kidney Island and specified interests in OML 11 to the Rivers State Government.
The Osagie Okunbor-led management said in a statement on Friday that it was disappointed at the judgement.
“SPDC is very disappointed that the Rivers State High Court affirmed the enforcement of the purported sale of interests in SPDC’s JV’s assets in Kidney Island and specified interests in OML 11 to the Rivers State Government. This is notwithstanding the fact that in the underlying judgement (Chief Agbara and Others v. SPDC, ) which is being enforced by the sale, have themselves accepted in the High Court in England that the judgement was ‘miscalculated’ and ‘materially overstated’.
“SPDC has therefore filed an appeal and an application for a stay of execution of this recent judgment issued by the Rivers State High Court on 13 August 2020,” the statement signed by the company’s spokesman Bamidele Odugbesan read.
Prior to the instant case, the Rivers State Government had filed a similar case at the Federal High Court in Abuja, asking the court to direct the minister of petroleum resources to recognise the same purported interest acquired through auction sale.
The Rivers government withdrew the case in the Abuja court in July and filed it as a new case at the Rivers State High Court without joining the minister of petroleum resources.
The presiding judge Justice Charles Nwogu denied an application by SPDC to join the minister of petroleum resources to the suit.
Under the Nigerian Petroleum Act, any acquisition or assignment of interests in a licence or lease must have the consent of the minister of petroleum resources.
According to the statement, the root case, Chief Agbara and Others v. SPDC, which led to the purported sale of interests SPDC JV’s assets is still the subject of ongoing proceedings in several courts, including the Supreme Court “and it remains the position of SPDC that no payment is due and any purported sale or enforcement of payment is premature and prejudicial to ongoing proceedings. The auction sale is also being challenged on appeal by SPDC.”
The root case has its origin in a spill caused by third parties during the Nigerian civil war, a challenging period which resulted in significant damage to oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta region.
The SPDC said that although it does not accept responsibility for the spill, the affected sites in Ejama Ebubu community were fully remediated, adding that it was certified by the government regulator.
SPDC operates the SPDC Joint Venture on behalf of the JV partners which include the Federal Government, represented by Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), with 55 per cent participating interest.