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Court returns Abigborodo, Hely Creek fields to Transnational Energy

Justice Taiwo Taiwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja has set aside the purported reversal of the consent given by the Federal Government for the farm-out agreement between Chevron and Transnational Energy Limited (TEL) on the Abigborodo and Hely Creeks marginal fields in the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 49.

 

Transnational Energy Limited (TEL) and Bresson A. S. Nigeria Limited had in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CS/1067/2020, challenged the terminationof thecontractual agreement they had with government over the oil fields.

 

Minister of Petroleum Resources, Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Department of Petroleum Resources, National Petroleum Investment and Management Services (NAPIMS) and the Attorney General of the Federation were joined as codefendants in the suit.

 

The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, Dr. Sijuade Kayode, claimed that a farm-out agreement over the two marginal fields was concluded between TEL and the Joint Venture operators, Chevron Nigeria Limited in 2017, for amongst others purposes, to provide feedstock to a gas-topower project developed by TEL and its partners, which started in 2012.

 

They stated that the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), in a letter dated 20th February 2017, conveyed a letter of Ministerial Consent by the Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources approving the farmout and its terms.

 

The plaintiffs added that the DPR, in its said letter, equally directed TEL to pay a prescribed premium to Federal Government, after which the farm-out will become effective, a directive TEL complied with by paying the prescribed fee of $639,820.65.

 

However, rather than allowing the plaintiffs enjoy the benefits of the agreement after the Federal Government had acknowledge receiving TEL’s payment, the then Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, the late Abba Kyari, wrote a memo, purporting to revoke the earlier Ministerial  Consent, claiming to have acted on the instruction of the President.

 

The plaintiffs added that the DPR, without any notice to the farmee (TEL) put the two fields in the 2020 marginal fields basket, even though the fields were not part of the original 57 fields approved for the bid round. In the course of proceedings, the plaintiffs exhibited their audited accounts, business plan and financial model which showed that both plaintiffs had jointly expended US$22,718,000.00 (twenty-two million, seven hundred and eighteen thousand United States dollars) on the development of the gas and power side of the project.

 

They also exhibited their financial models in arguing that they have lost over $164 million due to the actions of the defendants, while Federal Government may have equally lost over $68 million in royalty and taxes not earned as a result of the actions of the defendants.

 

They plaintiffs asserted that their gas-to-power project elicited a massive international cooperation spanning over 15 countries and involving over 100 international experts.

 

Delivering judgement in the matter, Justice Taiwo upheld the plaintiffs’ claims and granted all the reliefs sought, including an award of $20 million in damages against the defendants, who are all Federal Government’s agents.

 

The judge held that the defendants failed to supply counter evidence and arguments to disprove the plaintiffs’ claims

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