Contrary to the order by the Supreme Court that the parties in the case before the court in a suit involving Brittania-U Nigeria Limited and Chevron, Seplat Petroleum Development Company and others, on Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) 52, 53 and 55, should not condone or allow any action that overreaches the case, Chevron is still seeking to conclude the transfer of OMLs 53 and 55 to Seplat by April 6, 2015.
When the case came up at the Supreme Court on February 24, 2015, the presiding justice on the panel, who sat on the appeal, Hon. Justice Fabiyi, told the counsels to the parties that it was their duty, being very senior members of the bar, to advise their clients on the need to respect the authority of the court as case was ripe for hearing, and not do anything that may overreach the case.
But a source close to Seplat told THISDAY last night that there was no order by the Supreme Court for the parties to stay action, as the statement credited to the presiding justice admonishing parties not to take actions to overreach the appeal was a “mere introductory remark and not an order of the court”.
“The Supreme Court did not make any order. It was just by way of introductory remarks that the presiding justice admonished parties not to take actions to overreach the appeal. It was not an order.
“So I don’t know where the order they are talking about is coming from. In fact, Brittania-U’s lawyers wanted an interlocutory injunction granted but the lawyers to Chevron and Seplat said that since they had filed all the briefs, there was no need for interlocutory injunction.
“So they agreed that since all the briefs had been filed, the main appeal should be argued. No date has been fixed for the main appeal and what is going to be argued is even clearly irrelevant at this point,” the source said.
In two separate letters dated February 23, 2015, which were addressed to the Managing Directors of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Addax Petroleum Development (Nigeria) Limited,
Chevron said it had transferred its interest in OMLs 55, and 53 to Belemaoil Producing Limited and Seplat respectively.
The two letters, which were obtained by THISDAY, were signed by the Director of NNPC/Chevron Nigeria Limited Joint Venture, Mr. Supo Shadiya
According to Chevron, the operatorship of the two assets will be transferred to Seplat after a transition process, which commenced on February 5, 2015 is concluded on April 6, 2015.
In the letter addressed to Shell, with reference number REG-LEG-CNL-SPD-LEK-0020L, Chevron stated that OML 55 will be operated by Seplat on behalf of the new joint venture between Belemaoil and NNPC, adding that Seplat was a part owner of Belemaoil.
“Consequently, title to the assets and production from OML 55 now belongs to the NNPC/Belemaoil JV operated by Seplat. Although operation of the assets is still being handled by Chevron Nigeria Limited, this is being done on behalf of Seplat for the NNPC/Belemaoil JV under a transition process, at the end of which custody and operatorship of OML 55 will be handed over to Seplat,” said the letter.
Also in the letter addressed to Addax, with reference number REG-LEG-CNL-ADX-LEK-00005L, Chevron disclosed that OML 53 will be operated by Seplat on behalf of the new joint venture between the NNPC and Seplat.
“Consequently, title to the assets and production from OML 53 now belongs to the NNPC/Seplat JV operated by Seplat. Although operation of the assets is still being handled by Chevron Nigeria Limited, this is being done on behalf of Seplat for the NNPC/Seplat Joint Venture, under a transition process, at the end of which custody and operation of OML 53 will be handed over to Seplat,” the letter stated.
Despite pending litigations at a Federal High Court, Appeal Court and the Supreme Court, Chevron went ahead to sell the disputed blocks.
Before the leases were sold by Chevron, the lawyer to Brittania-U, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), had cautioned the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, and NNPC not to be manipulated into pursuing extra-judicial advantage in contempt of court.
This caution came a few days after lawyer to Seplat, Mr. D. D. Dodo (SAN) on July 30, 2014, wrote to the minister and NNPC, requesting them to grant consent to the bid process and divestment of the disputed oil blocks in favour of his client.
But Tarfa, in a letter dated August 7, 2014, urged the minister to jettison the request by Seplat’s lawyer, stressing that if the minister gave consent to the bid process and divestment of Chevron’s interest in the three leases, it would serve as an affront to the authority of the courts seized with the suit.