As more facts about the round-tripping transaction involving Shell, Agip and the federal government, continue to emerge, Shell has insisted that, in line with its policy, it cannot reveal commercially sensitive information on the transactions.
In its reaction, Agip disassociated itself from any misunderstanding between Shell and Malabu over oil block OPL 245. Agip confirmed that Malabu were the original operators of the oil block OPL 245 but because it had problems with its technical partners Shell, this led to the abandonment of the block for some years.
According to Agip, the federal government decided to bring in a third party, which is Agip, so as to sort out the problem between Malabu and Shell.
Tajudeen Adigun, spokesman for Agip, pointed out that Agip took over the block from the government and had been operating it as a joint venture with Shell after it had paid the necessary fees which the federal government may have used to settle Malabu.
“Agip has no misunderstanding with anyone. The government who is the major concessionaire and owner of the land where the oil block was located did not want the block to continue to be left fallow over a misunderstanding between the other parties, and that was why government sold the block to us,” Adigun said.
A statement signed by Precious Okolobo, a spokesman for Shell, noted: “We can confirm that the Federal Government of Nigeria has allocated the deepwater offshore block OPL 245 jointly to Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo).
“NAE and SNEPCo each now hold 50 per cent in OPL 245, with NAE as operator of the block. Any payments relating to the issuance of the licence were made only to the Federal Government of Nigeria. Please refer to the operator for further enquiries.”
According to the statement made available to LEADERSHIP, the details of the agreement between ENI, the federal government and Shell was the outcome of the settlement of the various commercial and legal issues.
“In line with Shell’s information policy, we cannot reveal commercially sensitive information, and hence cannot comment further on the papers filed in the New York court proceedings,” it said.
The statement signed by Okolobo however noted, “Shell remains committed to the principles of disclosure as set forth by the EITI and, in April 2012, we have published details of payments made to governments in 2011 of some of the main countries where we operate.”
But the deputy chairman of the House of Representatives panel yesterday said that the revelations of round-tripping in the oil block deal between the federal government, Shell and ENI confirms the position of the House of Representatives that the management of the nation’s resources was fraught with fraud.
The House of Representatives, through Hon. Victor Ogene, while reacting to the story in an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP yesterday, said the revelation was only the latest in the series of underhand deals in the oil sector.
He said: “It is nothing new because we have always known and we have always insisted that there is something unsavoury and fishy in the management of Nigeria’s oil resources dating back to several decades. This is only the latest in a series of underhand deals that has defined the management of Nigeria’s oil wealth.”
Meanwhile, efforts to get the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN), yesterday to react to the round-tripping deal allegation involving Shell, ENI and the federal government over oil block 245 proved abortive.
When LEADERSHIP sought to see the AGF, his secretary said he was not available. Also, a text message sent to him was not replied.