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FG hires litigation firm, Franklin Wyatt, in legal battle with Eni S.p.A

The Ministry of Petroleum Resources has hired a litigation firm to assist in its dispute with Eni S.p.A over oil rights and bribery allegations.

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The Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources has employed the services of Franklin Wyatt, a litigation settlement specialist, to take part in the talks with Eni S.p.A in a long-running dispute over oil rights and bribery allegations.

According to Bloomberg, the London-based consultancy, Franklin Wyatt, was contracted by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, to represent and advise the Federal Government on outstanding commercial and legal issues over Oil Prospecting License 245 (OPL 245), through a letter dated June 29 and addressed to Matthew Carey, the Managing Partner of the firm.

This disclosure was made by the spokesman for the Minister of State for Petroleum, Garba Deen Muhammad.

The letter to the firm partly reads, “This serves as confirmation that Franklin Wyatt’s recruitment was approved by Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, and may be produced as evidence of the firm’s authority to represent the ministry in discussions with relevant counterparties.”

Backstory

It was reported earlier that the Nigerian government, at a hearing into the alleged corruption linked to Eni and Shell’s acquisition of OPL 245, called for a guilty verdict and an advance payment of about $1.1 billion for damages, in one of the oil industry’s biggest-ever corruption trials.

Eni has also accused both Nigeria and US investment firm for assisting the country with its litigation against the Italian oil firm and accused Royal Dutch Shell of a lack of transparency in the $1.1 billion energy deal.

What you should know

  • The 2011 purchase of OPL 245 by Eni and Royal Dutch Shell Plc has been subject to years of legal wrangling. The two companies, as well as some current and former executives, are on trial in Milan for allegedly making corrupt payments during the deal.
  • Italian prosecutors have accused the companies of moving $1.1 billion into a Nigerian government escrow account to obtain the license in 2011, about $800 million of which was then used to pay bribes into private pockets.
  • The current Nigerian government, which came to power five years ago, joined the case in 2018 as a civil party and asked for at least $1.1 billion in damages, while prosecutors are seeking a jail term of eight years for Eni Chief Executive Officer Claudio Descalzi. The tribunal is expected to rule early next year.
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ENERGY

Oil marketers say petrol will sell for N230 per litre in March

Oil marketers have insisted that petrol will sell for as much as N230 per litre in March.

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Oil marketers, on Sunday, said that Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol is to sell for as much as N230 per litre in March.

This is coming against the background of insistence by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that it has no plans to increase the price of petrol in March.

There has been a reported reappearance of queues at filling stations in some parts of Lagos and Abuja as panic buying and petrol hoarding occurs in some filling stations.

According to a report by New Telegraph, the National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mike Osatuyi, declared that the whole nation had crossed the bridge and that there was no hiding place for a hike in fuel price.

What the IPMAN top officials are saying

Osatuyi said, “I have just returned from a meeting in Abuja. What I have observed is that many stations have closed down and there are queues in many places in both Lagos and Abuja. Nigeria has crossed the bridge, there is no hiding place, the N1.2 trillion, which was hitherto annual spending on subsidy, will be borne by the market.

“As it is, the prices of crude oil have gone up to $67 per barrel and, with this, the price of PMS will be between N220 per litre and N230 per litre. I was told by someone that the Group Managing Director of NNPC told them that the official price is likely to be N206 per litre.

“As it is now, all the stations that have shut down their gates must have heard information before they took that action. I want us all to wait by tomorrow we will all see clearly what will happen. There have been annual spending of N1.2 trillion on fuel subsidy and now that the subsidy has said to be abolished, that money must come from somewhere.

’The money must be coming from somewhere. “NNPC is not an NGO (non-governmental organisation), there is no budgetary provision for subsidy again and instead of wasting it on subsidy, it should be deployed to other sectors,’’ he said.

On what can be done to cushion the negative effects of higher fuel price, Osatuyi said: “This plan to cushion the negative effects of higher fuel price should be the next important thing. The government can do the free conversion of vehicle from fuel to gas. This should be done to help Nigerians who will definitely be affected by this fuel price hike.”

On his part, the IPMAN National Public Relations Officer, Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu, condemned the panic buying and return of long queues at some filling stations within Abuja.

While assuring Nigerians that the normal supply of petroleum products would soon be restored with the commencement of loading at various depots, Yakubu said the increase in the global price of crude oil has affected the price of petrol.

He said, “We want to assure the buyers that government and marketers are doing everything possible to ensure that the products are available in every filling station within a few days starting from today (Sunday).’’

What you should know

  • The state oil giant, NNPC, had in a press statement on Sunday, assured Nigerians that despite the increase in the price of crude oil, it has no plans to increase the ex-depot price of petrol in the month of March. This is coming after it gave a similar assurance earlier in February, that it was not going to increase the price of the product in February.
  • NNPC explained that the decision was to allow ongoing engagements with organized labour and other stakeholders on an acceptable framework that will not expose the ordinary Nigerian to any hardship, to be concluded.
  • This uncertainty has led to hoarding of the product by depot owners and some retail marketers, which has led to the return of queues in some filling stations.
  • The Federal Government had in March 2020, announced the removal of fuel subsidy and full deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry, which will allow market forces to determine the price of the product.
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ENERGY

FG to meet with State Governors over electricity, fuel prices

The State Governors and the FG are set to meet in order to discuss the issues of electricity and fuel pricing in the country.

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The  Federal Government has disclosed that it will meet with State Governors and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Thursday to find solutions to issues of fuel and electricity pricing in Nigeria.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, in a meeting with newsmen in Abuja after the FG met with organised labour.

The Minister added that the ongoing meetings with organised labour had been peaceful so far and stated that the issue about PMS prices was a work in progress that would also involve the Governors at the NEC meeting.

As for the issue of the price of PMS, it is a work in progress. The governors are to discuss this on Thursday at the National Economic Council and hopefully there will be a way out of the situation,” he said.

Mr Ngige said that organised labour also handled negotiations on the topic of electricity price tariffs and would continue negotiations on the topic.

Meanwhile, the NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said that Labour was still not in full agreement with the report on PMS pricing.

“This means that we import 100 per cent of all the PMS used in the country, whereas we have refineries” he said.

“The reports were presented and we pointed out areas that we are not comfortable with and also made some suggestions which will form the basis of decisions on the matter,” he added.

What you should know 

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) last week assured organised labour and Nigerians that there was no plan to increase the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol, in the month of February.

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ENERGY

FCCPC to begin electricity billing enforcement

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission says it will commence enforcement of the NERC billing cap order.

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The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) announced that it will launch a billing capping order enforcement of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to protect Nigerian consumers.

This was disclosed by Mr Babatunde Irukera, the Executive Vice Chairman of the commission in an interview with NAN on Sunday in Abuja. He disclosed that the scheme was necessitated by multiple customer complaints on billing.

“There are certain industries that require special treatment, one of them is electricity,”he said.

He added that the Commission plans to implement stronger enforcement in 2021 and has commenced talks with the NERC for it.

“Secondly, we want to plan a more strategic approach to intervening in the complaints.

“And so through the year, periodically, we take some of our teams to locations where we have seen that there are a lot of complaints and spend some time there ensuring that DisCos address complaints to make sure that issues that people are dissatisfied with are resolved.

“That is a very important one for that sector this year,” Irukera said.

What you should know 

  • Recall it was reported that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) announced that 62.63% of electric customers in Nigeria were under the estimated billing package as at September 2020.
  • The Federal Government also revealed that electricity consumers who paid for meters under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme, will have a refund of their money.
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