Legal battle over Chevron oil blocks shifts to Nigerian Supreme Court

July 15, 2014 | Legal, Nigeria

Lagos, Nigeria |- The legal dispute between two Nigerian oil companies over a bid to purchase a Chevron asset, is continuing after one of them, Brittania-U, filed an appeal with the Nigerian Supreme Court to stop the auction of the oil blocks proceeding further, Brittania’s lawyers said Tuesday.

In January, Nigerian independent oil company, Seplat Petroleum became the preferred bidder for Chevron’s Oil Mining Leases 52, 53 and 55, but the process has yet to be completed due to legal proceedings brought by Brittania-U, which said Chevron had reneged on an agreement entered into by both parties last November, for the transfer of Chevron’s 40% equity in the blocks.

Brittania-U’s lawyers, Ricky Tarfa and Abiodun Owonikoko, however, said in the court papers said they approached the Supreme Court to overrule an order by a lower court last month, which exempted Nigeria’s oil minister and state oil company NNPC from being included in the court case.

“The transactions concerning OMLs 52, 53 and 55 are sub judice and no steps are permissible or lawful to be taken by the minister and NNPC to consent to any adverse transaction or in any other way to prejudice the suit until the suit/appeals relating to same are finally disposed of or the court otherwise directs/orders,” the lawyers said.

Seplat Managing Director Austin Avuru told reporters last week that his company remained confident it would win its case.

Brittania-U said in January that it had won the bidding for the assets for at total of $1.015 billion.

The Chevron acreages are believed to be prolific, with one of the blocks, OML 52, estimated to hold over 500 million barrels in reserves, according to official data.