THE Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has won a court decision temporarily blocking Exxon Mobil Corporation from selling assets in Nigeria to Seplat Energy Plc.
A judge in Abuja granted NNPC an “order of interim injunction” on July 6, 2022, barring Exxon “from completing any divestment” in a unit that ultimately operates four licenses in Nigeria, Blomberg reported on Monday.
The Lagos-based producer, Seplat, had agreed to acquire the United States oil major’s subsidiary for at least $1.28bn in February.
The report stated that NNPC wished to block the transaction and to take over the permits itself.
Bloomberg stated that NNPC sued Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited on July 5, 2022, asking the Federal High Court either to order that a dispute had occurred between the parties over preemption rights, or to order them to take the matter to arbitration, quoting a statement from Seplat.
Seplat, which was not party to the lawsuit, said its deal with Exxon was “still valid” and the company “remains confident that the matter will be brought to a proper conclusion in accordance with the law.”
A spokeswoman for Exxon declined to comment, according to Bloomberg, while a spokesman for the NNPC did not respond to a phone call and text message.
The acquisition would give Seplat additional production of about 95,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day from shallow-water assets that Exxon operated in a joint venture with NNPC.
For more than a decade, international oil companies active in Nigeria have been offloading large parts of their portfolio across the country to domestic players, a trend that has recently accelerated.
An order from a Nigerian court had also forced Shell Plc to pause its plans to sell all off its remaining onshore permits in Nigeria.