- US judge blocks Exxon, Shell’s move to restore $1.8 billion arbitration award against Nigeria
Ejiofor Alike with agency reports
The federal government’s claim that the gas-to-power project between it and an Irish company, Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID), that went awry, attracting an arbitration award and enforcement judgment of $9.6bn, was a fraudulent transaction, received a boost wednesday as a source close to former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, revealed to THISDAY how the former minister was double-crossed in the project by the company’s promoters.
Since a London Commercial Court granted the prayer of P&ID for the enforcement of the arbitral award it got in 2017, allowing it to move against Nigeria’s assets in the United Kingdom, the federal government has been strident in its claim that the award could not stand because the purported deal was a fraudulent transaction that did not have the approval of either former president, late Umaru Yar’Adua, or the federal executive council.
The source, who also listed a couple of similar deals the P&ID promoters had with Nigeria that ended in arbitrations and litigations, suggested that the company might be an audacious corruption enterprise.
He said the gas-to-power project was Danjuma’s original idea, which he introduced to one of the promoters of P&ID, Mr. Michael Quinn, who he subsequently engaged as consultant.
He said Quinn later double-crossed Danjuma to clinch the deal with the federal government.
“Danjuma actually engaged Quinn as a consultant to his company, Tita-Kuru Petrochemicals Limited, but after obtaining as much as $40 million to prepare the feasibility studies of the project, the Irish went behind to set up a shell company and used it to take the contract from the federal government,” he told THISDAY.
The source identified the shell company as P&ID, alleging that Quinn colluded with former presidential adviser on petroleum, Alhaji Rilwanu Lukman, and some officials of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to pull the deal.
According to him, when the deal went sore and P&ID went into arbitration, Danjuma demanded to be briefed but that Quinn and his partner, Brendan Cahill, simply disappeared and became unreachable.
Quinn, however, died of cancer in 2015, leaving Cahill behind to move forward what appears to be a major heist.
A foreign media outlet, Bloomberg Businessweek, in an extensive story published on its website yesterday also gave details of P&ID’s promoters’ history of graft and failed contracts, pointing out that, at a time, Quinn became a subject of a European Union (EU) investigation.
According to the medium, the gas-to-power project was not the first project Quinn and Cahill, had with Nigeria that went sore, citing one IPCO (Nigeria) Limited case, which occurred in 2003.
It said the company was formerly part of Singapore-based construction group IPCO International Ltd.
It reported: “The parent company sold most of its stake in 2003, leaving behind a shell company whose sole activity seems to have been to engage in lawsuits—notably a $150 million case against the Nigerian petroleum ministry over delays to the construction of an oil terminal. There were familiar allegations of overcharging, and the suit went all the way to the U.K.
Supreme Court before being settled on confidential terms last year. How much IPCO Nigeria’s owners received and who benefited remains a mystery. You won’t find Quinn’s or Cahill’s name in the countless claims, counterclaims, and rulings produced since the case began more than a decade ago, but according to three people familiar with Cahill’s role, he helped manage the U.K. lawsuit for IPCO Nigeria in return for a share of the proceeds. The company’s director, Olu Adewunmi, declined to comment on whether Cahill was involved in the lawsuit.”
US Judge Blocks Exxon, Shell’s Move To Restore $1.8bn Arbitration Award against Nigeria.
Meanwhile, a United States judge yesterday rejected efforts by ExxonMobil Corporation and Royal Dutch Shell Plc to revive a $1.8 billion arbitration award against the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which stemmed from a dispute over a 1993 contract.
US District Judge, William Pauley, in Manhattan cited public policy and due process considerations in deciding not to enforce the October 2011 award against NNPC, which was subsequently set aside by courts in Nigeria.
“While this court may have inherent authority to fashion appropriate relief in certain circumstances, exercising that authority to create a $1.8 billion judgment is a bridge too far,” Pauley wrote in a 50-page decision.
The companies said last November that the award had grown to $2.67 billion, including interest.
ExxonMobil’s spokesman, Todd Spitler, said the Irving, Texas-based company disagreed with the decision and was evaluating its next steps.
Shell and its lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“NNPC is very pleased with the decision, and was always confident that there was no basis for a US court to confirm the award,” NNPC’s lawyer, Cecilia Moss, said in an interview.
According to court papers, the 1993 contract anticipated that Exxon and Shell affiliates would invest billions of dollars to extract oil from the Erha field, about 60 miles (97 km) off Nigeria’s coast, and share profits with NNPC.
But the affiliates, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited, accused NNPC of unilaterally “lifting” more oil than was contractually allowed, at the behest of Nigeria’s government, depriving them of billions of dollars of oil.
Pauley said Exxon and Shell still have “multiple appeals pending” in Nigeria, and rejected their argument that it might be difficult to collect there.
Exxon and Shell “executed a contract in Nigeria with another Nigerian corporation containing an arbitration clause requiring any arbitration to be held in Nigeria under Nigerian law, and it then sought to confirm the award in Nigeria,” Pauley wrote. “[They] cannot now reasonably complain that efforts to collect will be frustrated in Nigeria.”
Reuters reported that in an August 7 regulatory filing, Exxon said it did not expect the case to materially affect its operations or financial condition.
The case is Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Ltd et al v Nigerian National Petroleum Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-08445.