Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
President Bola Tinubu yesterday pledged to ensure competition in the oil and gas industry in the country, following a visit by officials of ExxonMobil Nigeria, to the State House in Abuja.
None of the parties at the meeting disclosed details of the issues discussed, but THISDAY recalls that a pending matter which could not be resolved by the Muhammadu Buhari administration was the $1.3bn assets sale imbroglio between the company and Seplat Energy Plc on the one hand and the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) on the other.
Some of the key officials of ExxonMobil that visited Tinubu, who himself was a former Treasurer of the oil company were the President of Exxon Mobil on Upstream Oil and Gas, Mr. Liam Mallon and the Executive Director Mobil Nigeria, Adesuwa Dozie.
It also followed a similar meeting to the then President Muhammadu Buhari by both officials on the margins of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, USA in September last year.
While making the meeting public on his Twitter handle, Tinubu said it was part of his efforts to ensure collaboration among all stakeholders in the oil and gas sector.
“ It was a pleasure to play host to ExxonMobil Executives, Mr Liam Mallon and Mrs Adesua Dozie, at the State House earlier today (Thursday).
“The meeting marks the continuation of this administration’s efforts to secure the collaboration of critical players in the oil sector towards ensuring stability, transparency and fair competition in the sector,” he stated.
ExxonMobil upstream affiliate in Nigeria, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN) is involved in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas, and operates several joint venture concessions and deepwater production sharing contracts with the NNPC.
The company and its joint venture partner, NNPC, operate over 90 offshore platforms comprising of about 300 producing wells at a capacity of over 550,000 barrels a day of crude, condensate and natural gas liquids.
Exxon has experienced setbacks since Seplat Energy announced that it had entered into agreements with the company to acquire the entire share capital of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited.
Seplat had offered ExxonMobil a purchasing price of $1.3 billion plus up to $300 million contingent consideration to buy the stake in the shallow water business, a deal that has been beset by several stumbling blocks.
Exxon Nigeria controls four oil mining leases (OMLs 67, 68, 70, 104) and its portfolio includes one of Nigeria’s largest export facilities, the Qua Iboe Terminal.
It also has a 51 per cent interest in Bonny River Terminal and Natural Gas Liquids Recovery Plants at East Area Projects (EAP) and Oso.
While the acquisition had been scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2022, with Buhari initially giving approval in August 2022, he reversed the decision after the industry regulator, the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) disagreed with the takeover.
The NNPC insists that it has first refusal rights and has since then blocked the deal between Seplat and ExxonMobil, maintaining that the company has a right to take over the 40 per cent stake for itself.