Chevron to release documents in lawsuit over Nigerian oil leases

May 28, 2015 | Asset Acquisitions & Divestitures, Legal, Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria  | –  Chevron U.S. and BNP Paribas agreed recently in District Court in Texas to turn over documents and correspondence between the two companies and other entities to the Nigerian oil company that has sued Chevron over the sale of three oil mining leases in the Niger Delta.

The agreement came during a hearing April 27 in a lawsuit filed in Houston by Brittania-U Nigeria Ltd. In the lawsuit, Brittania-U accuses Amni International Petroleum Development Company Ltd., Belema Oil Producing Ltd. and other entities of “tortious interference” for allegedly raising questions about Brittania-U’s ability to pay for the leases during a bidding process two years ago. Chevron and BNP are not defendants in the Houston lawsuit. However, Brittania-U’s lawyers subpoenaed their records believing they contain evidence relevant to the case, officials said.

Brittania-U filed suit in federal court in Nigeria in December 2013 accusing Chevron Nigeria Limited, Chevron U.S. and its partners of breach of bid arrangement in the sale of the oil mining leases. Brittania-U is asking that Chevron be compelled to finalize the sale or pay $11 billion in damages.

Brittania-U officials later filed suit in Houston alleging that Chevron backed out of the deal after Amni, Belema and others raised questions about the company’s finances.

This week in Nigeria, a judge nullified Chevron’s sale of its 40% interest in the oil mining leases to the Seplat Consortium of Nigeria, ruling that no sale can take place until Brittania-U’s lawsuit against Chevron is resolved. The consortium includes the Seplat Petroleum Development Company, Amni and Belema.

In Houston, Judge Caroline Baker denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss. Chevron and BNP argued that Texas courts lacked jurisdiction over the case because it involved the sale of foreign real estate and that the case belonged in Nigeria – not Texas.

Baker then heard Brittania-U’s motion to compel Chevron and BNP Paribas to turn over a variety of documents, including correspondence among officers, employees or agents of Chevron discussing the bidding process, the leases or Brittania-U’s finances; correspondence between Chevron, Amni, Seplat, Belema Oil and BNP Paribas discussing the matters; and any contracts between Chevron and Belema, Amni and Seplat in the last five years.

During the hearing and partially due to Baker’s ruling on the motions to dismiss, Chevron and BNP Paribas agreed to turn over many of the documents, officials said.