The federal government declined its consent to the proposed acquisition of oil and gas assets belonging to Mobil Oil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPNU) by Seplat Energy, THISDAY Newspaper is reporting.
The government among others, cited overriding national interest as one of the reasons for rejecting the deal.
The Chief Executive, Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, stated these in two separate letters addressed to the Chairman/ Managing Director, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, Mr. Richard Laing as well as the immediate past Chairman of Seplat Energy, Dr. ABC Orjiako. Both letters obtained by THISDAY, were dated May 13, 2022.
Seplat Energy had in February this year, announced its acquisition of oil and gas assets belonging to MPNU. But the deal was subject to Ministerial Consent and other required regulatory approvals.
However, few weeks after, it was reported that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited had opted to exercise its Right of First Refusal (RFR) on the sale of the assets, which then put a hold on the transaction.
But Komolafe in the letter stressed that regardless of the mode of the transaction, Mobil Oil still remains to all intents and purposes, the assignor of the asset under the Nigerian law.
“We also note that MPNU failed to follow the procedure for assignments laid down in the Guidelines by not providing the requisite notices to the Commission at all relevant stages of the transaction. Even if the transaction has been between Seplat Energy Offshore Limited and the MPNU shareholders, responsibility to ensure compliance with Nigerian laws, rules and regulations always remain that of MPNU, the entity that was awarded the assets.
“We regret to inform you that His Excellency, the Minister of Petroleum Resources has declined his consent to the transaction.
“Nothing in this letter shall be deemed to be a waiver, on the part of the Commission, of any rights under the Guidelines, any law, rule or regulation, and the Commission reserves all its rights in respect of the subject matter. Please accept the assurances of my highest esteem,” the Commission’s boss stated in the letter addressed to Laing, with reference number: NUPRC/LD/1189/01, titled: “Re: Potential Sale and Purchase of the Equity (Shares) of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited.”
Also, in the letter addressed to Orjiako, the regulatory commission also highlighted relevant sections in the Guidelines and Procedures for Obtaining Minister’s Consent to the Assignment of Interest in Oil and Gas Assets 2021.
“Thus, regardless of the mode of the transaction, MPNU, remains, to all intents and purposes, the assignor under Nigerian law and is the proper person to bring an application for Ministerial consent to the transaction, not Seplat. Consequently, you are hereby requested to revert to MPNU, the assignor, to receive updates on your application,” it stated.