By Davidson Iriekpen
Nine oil firms have opposed an application by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) seeking approval to sell or accept bids for eight Oil Mining Licences, (OMLs).
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke had on June 3 restrained the federal government from tampering with the OMLs pending determination of a suit challenging their status.
He granted an order of interim injunction against the Minister of State for Petroleum, his ministry and Auwalu Sarki following a May 20 ex parte application filed by nine oil firms.But the DPR, through its counsel, Adetunji Oyeyipo ,SAN, brought an application seeking to set aside the injunction.
He contended that the plaintiffs served the injunctive order electronically, rather than the usual physical service, without first obtaining an order of court to do so.
He then prayed the judge to, on this ground, among others, set aside the order.
But the plaintiffs through their counsel Tayo Oyetibo, SAN and Uche Nwokedi SAN, prayed the court to dismiss the government’s application.
They told Justice Aneke that there was evidence of service which was done electronically in line with the COVID-19 practice direction of the Federal High Court 2020.
Oyetibo noted that the defendants had said that they stopped accepting physical service since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted the plaintiffs to invoke COVID-19 practice direction on electronic service.
He prayed the court to dismiss the application to set aside the order and set the substantive case for hearing.
Justice Aneke adjourned till July 10, for ruling and continuation hearing.
The firms and ‘their’ Marginal Oil Fields include: Independent Energy Ltd – Ofa OML 30; Associated Oil and Gas Ltd/Dansaki Petroleum Unlimited – Tom Shot Bank OML 14; Bayelsa Oil Company Ltd – Atala MFOG-2C and Bicta Energy and Management System Ltd – Ogedeh OML 90 MFOG-2D.
Others are: Del Sigma Petroleum Ltd – Ke OML 90 MFOG-2E; Goland Petroleum Ltd -Oriri OML 88 MFOG-2F; Sahara Energy Ltd/African Oil and Gas Ltd – Tsekelewu OML 40 MFOG-2G and Sogenal Ltd Akepo – OML 90 MFOG-2H.
The federal government in April 2020 purportedly revoked 11 firms’ oil licences to operate marginal fields.
The DPR on June 1 announced the commencement of the 2020 marginal field bid round, involving 57 marginal fields, including 11 fields revoked by the DPR.
But the oil firms filed a motion on notice challenging the revocation and applied for the interim injunction.