Lagos, Nigeria (Reuters) – A Nigerian court upheld an order on Monday barring Chevron from selling its onshore assets until a legal dispute with local firm Brittania-U is resolved, Brittania-U’s lawyers said outside the court.
Brittania-U alleges it had a deal with the U.S. oil major to buy the assets, which Chevron denies.
“The court upheld the interim order in favour of Brittania to protect the assets while the substantive case is still being determined,” lawyer Rickey Tarfa said.
“The judge said that the order needs to be in place until the case is decided. The order restrains Chevron from transferring the asset or doing anything with the assets.”
Chevron’s lawyer at the Federal High Court in Lagos declined to comment.
The Nigerian firm, run by former Chevron executive Catherine Uju Ifejika, was the highest bidder at over $1 billion for the biggest cluster of blocks – OML 52, 53 and 55 – and Chevron began discussions with the company over the sale.
Chevron decided to look at alternative bids after Brittania-U failed to prove it could muster the sum promptly, banking and oil industry sources said.
Among the challenges being heard are whether or not the court even has jurisdiction in the case.
Chevron was looking to offload stakes of 40% in some onshore licences, along with exploration potential of 500 million barrels of oil equivalent.
Companies that are said to have failed in the initial round are local players Pillar Oil, Niger Delta Petroleum and MidWestern Oil & Gas, as well as Frontier Oil.
Afren subsidiary First Hydrocarbons Nigeria, Seplat Petroleum Development, Seven Energy, Sonengal and Amni International were said to have also been interested.