Alleged N259m Debt: Firm Files Winding Up Procedure against Aiteo E&P Company

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Chika Amanze-Nwachuku

A Port Harcourt -based firm, Charlietam International Services Limited, has filed a winding up procedure at the Federal High Court, Lagos against Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited, over its alleged refusal to pay the petitioner for sundry services valued at N259million.

In the petition filed through its solicitors, Anthony Enyindah, Victor Okezie and Dr. Dickson Omukoro of Ntephe Smith & Wills, the petitioner, one of Aiteo’s contractors, wants the court to wind-up the oil exploration and production company (E&P over its inability to pay for services rendered to it between December 2017 and March 2019.

Aiteo is the operator of Oil Mining Lease (OML 29), which it acquired from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in 2015.

Specifically, the petitioner is praying the court to wind-up Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited on grounds of insolvency pursuant to sections 408 and 409(a) of the Company and Allied Matters Act.

A six paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Mr. Unye Micah, Managing Director of Charlietam International Services Limited, averred that between December 2017 and March 2019, the petitioner rendered services valued at N265million to the oil firm, which paid it onlyN6million without payment advice, leaving an outstanding balance of N259million.

The petitioner also averred that several demand letters, including those from its solicitors were sent to the oil firm’s offices in Abuja and Lagos, but it failed or refused to respond to any of the letters.

The oil firm was also said to have been informed about the impending petition in the demand letters, yet the company failed/refused to pay its indebtedness. No date has been fixed for hearing of the petition.

In 2015, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), SPDC and Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company Limited, concluded the transaction leading to the acquisition of SPDC’s 30 per cent stake in Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 and the Nembe Creek Trunkline (NCTL) by the oil firm (Aiteo).

Total E&P Nigeria Limited and Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited also assigned their interests of 10 per cent and five per cent respectively in the lease, ultimately giving Aiteo a 45 per cent interest in OML 29 and the NCTL.

OML 29 contains 11 oil and gas fields, four of which are producing.

The oil block also contains significant associated gas volumes, and production is sent to the Nigeria LNG (NLNG) plant at Bonny Island via the Soku gas plant.