The Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), upstream subsidiary company of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has resumed oil exploration activities at oil mining lease (OML) 11.
On Monday, a court of appeal sitting in Abuja upturned the August 23, 2019, ruling of a federal high court which held that the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) was entitled to renew the lease on OML 11.
In its ruling, the appeal court held that the minister of petroleum resources has the discretion whether or not to renew the OML 11 lease in favor of SPDC.
The court further held that the minister rightly exercised his discretion in awarding the OML 11 lease to NPDC.
In March 2019, Buhari had ordered the NNPC to take over the operatorship of the entire OML 11 from SPDC.
Garba Deen Muhammad, NNPC spokesperson, quoted Mele Kyari, the corporation’s group managing director, as saying the ruling has paved the way for the NPDC to lead a formidable OML 11 team towards bolstering productivity in a responsible, efficient, environmentally friendly, and sustainable manner.
“We now have an opportunity to reconstruct a new beginning on OML 11, driven by global best practices and a social contract that would put the people and environment of the Niger Delta above pecuniary considerations,” Kyari said.
“This is a huge victory for the government and people of Nigeria as we now have the impetus to responsibly unlock the oil and gas reserves the block offers for the benefit of all Nigerians.
Kyari said resumption of operations on OML 11 would demonstrate the NPDC’s full commitment to develop and add value to its communities and the nation as a whole.
The NNPC GMD said the NPDC would pursue promotion of clean energy via its gas production with prospects of gas-to-power initiatives to “light up opportunities in the region,” and provide the much deserved industrialization.
He cautioned against any further legal challenge by the SPDC, adding that it was about time Nigeria derived the benefit of the OML11 after over three decades.
“It is time to roll back the decades of despair and destruction with the emphatic Appeal Court ruling. It is time to unlock opportunities for economic development in the region,” Kyari noted.
“In the light of their inability to work on the Ogoni region of the block for over 30 years and the new beginning this judgement presents, further legal action by Shell will not only be futile, it would be depriving Nigeria of an opportunity to make meaningful gains from OML 11 when the nation needs all the revenue it can get to move Nigeria forward.”