OPL 245: IMPI Hails Tinubu’s Approach in Ending 28 Years Controversy

Juliet Akoje in Abuja

The Independent Media and Policy Initiative (IMPI) has hailed President Bola Tinubu for putting an end to the controversy surrounding the Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL 245) after 28 years of litigation.

OPL 245 holds a total estimated value of nine billion barrels of crude which Nigeria had not been able to exploit or benefit from since 1998, when it was first sold in controversial manner to Malabu Oil and Gas.

However, since the sale, the transaction has remained the subject of various litigations starting with the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in 2001, who terminated the sale and, in turn, handed it to Shell without a public bid.

Rather than resolve the matter, it triggered a deluge of criticism and calls to redeem the transaction that now extended to Malabu on one hand, and Shell and the Italian firm, ENI on the other hand when the President Goodluck Jonathan administration facilitated a $1.3 billion settlement among the different claimants to the ownership of the oil fields.

But its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, in a statement issued yesterday, said Tinubu acted in the national interest based on the potential economic benefits of developing the oil block.

It said: “Like many Nigerians, we are familiar with the history of its controversial sale in August 1998 on the watch of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, to Malabu Oil and Gas, a company owned by the then former Petroleum Resources Minister, Dan Etete.”

It noted: “The matter remained unresolved from the sovereign point of view upon which the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari initiated a legal challenge against the sale based on the suspicion of corruption in the $1.3 billion settlement by Shell and ENI which was facilitated by the Nigerian Government.

“We, however, observed that beginning in 2023, there had been moves to terminate the case in court.

“It is against this backdrop that we welcome the President’s approval of a negotiated settlement in order to pave way for oil prospecting in the lucrative oil block that has been described as one of Africa’s juiciest but which had been idle for nearly 30 years despite holding billions of barrels of crude oil.

“This will go a long way in boosting the country’s daily crude and gas production output, meaning more revenue at a time the country has, for years, been struggling to meet its OPEC quota.”

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